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Impact Stories Published May 25, 2023

Sirlinda Burgess

Sirlinda Burgess looks back on her VIP case with a sense of relief. “My goal was to set up my son’s future for the best things possible,” she says. “Thanks to VIP, and my volunteer attorneys, I can do that.”

Sirlinda’s son has autism and is largely nonverbal. She gave him a supportive home environment and worked with a team of doctors to care for him throughout his childhood. But as her son’s eighteenth birthday approached, Sirlinda began to consider the changes that would bring.

As an adult, Sirlinda’s son would be presumed legally competent, meaning he would have to make his own decisions about healthcare and finances. Even though his doctors agreed he could not care for himself, he would soon become his own sole advocate. Sirlinda wanted to provide him with the best quality of life she could, so she sought to become his legal guardian.

Sirlinda found her way to VIP after reaching out to several private attorneys, each of whom placed an insurmountable high price tag on the guardianship process. VIP matched her with two experienced volunteers. Sirlinda worked with her son’s lifelong doctor to produce an “expert report” detailing his incapacity and then partnered with her attorneys to petition the Court for guardianship.

“The volunteers helped me so much,” Sirlinda says. “They made sure they understood my whole story. They guided me throughout the entire process and encouraged me when I was nervous about going before the judge. Because of their help, I became my son’s guardian in only six months.”