Okay, college paperwork for Jeffrey was pretty much filled out, and we’d received hopeful news that Jeffrey’s disability payments from the State of Arizona would start in 3-6 months, instead of a year. Now we decided to get moving on becoming guardians for Jeffrey to help take care of all his financial needs once he moved to college (Surety Needed).
Jeffrey’s Oregon DDD caseworker connected us with a local attorney which specialized in obtaining guardianship’s for people with disabilities. We had attended a workshop he had put on a couple weeks earlier, and had really liked his mannerisms, intellect and honesty in working with his clients on such a delicate matter. We went ahead and scheduled our first appointment.
At that meeting we were very impressed with the way he interacted with Jeffrey – such a heart for kids with special needs!
During that meeting, he spoke with Jeffrey at length asking him all sorts of questions (Gary and I had to be quiet during this time which was difficult), and he jotted down all sorts of notes.
Jeffrey wasn’t really keen about us becoming his guardians, but then the attorney said just because we chose to be his guardians now, that doesn’t mean that we’ll have to be his guardians forever. When and if Jeffrey got to the point where he proved to us that he could handle his money, as well as all the other issues involved with his caregiving, we could relinquish it very easily.
As we left his office after that meeting Philippians 4:7 (NIV) came to mind:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Yes, we had peace…
A couple days later the attorney called to chat a bit more about Jeffrey and the guardianship issues.
He told us that after speaking with Jeffrey on the day of our meeting, he felt the court system may not approve us as guardians, because quite frankly he didn’t feel that Jeffrey fell into the “incapacitated” role which would need to be proved in order for us to receive the guardianship.
He said he had researched the issue, and it was clear that “incapacitated” in this regard meant that Jeffrey was not clearly able to understand or manage his money; or make sound decisions on his appropriate care.
He further told us that he’d hate to have us spend the money to try and get guardianship, just to have the court decline it.
However he stated in Jeffrey’s case, a better idea might be to have Jeffrey sign a Power of Attorney/Health Care Directive, stating that Gary and I could freely come in and take over when needed.
Of course there were problems with that, as well, as potentially Jeffrey could always turn around and cancel those documents if he were to get angry with us for one reason or the other.
But – if that were to happen and we found out someone was abusing or neglecting Jeffrey, we could petition the courts for an emergency appointment of guardianship which would last for 30 days.
There was one more possibility, however. He said we might be able to file a “limited guardianship” which would basically outline the specific areas where we could jump in and help – such as his personal care issues. He wasn’t positive, but stated the court might possibly deem Jeffrey incapacitated in that particular area.
After hanging up the phone, we were more confused than ever. “What should we do, Lord? Is Jeffrey competent enough to take care of his needs by himself? After all, he doesn’t just have the normal stuff college kids need to learn about, but he also would need to take care of his medical/personal needs that most other kids don’t have. Does he really understand everything he’d need to do, Lord?”
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 20:7 (NIV).
After taking a few days to pray and talk it over, Gary and I decided to give Jeffrey a shot, trying the Power of Attorney/Health Care Directive route. Jeffrey was thrilled.
But what would the future hold?