Ward of Court
What is a Ward of Court?
When a person is unable to manage his or her own affairs because of mental illness, an application can be made through the Office of Wards of Court to have this person made a Ward of Court. The application will come before the President of the High Court and he will decide based on the medical reports whether to make the person a Ward of Court. If the President of the High Court is satisfied that the person cannot manage his or her own affairs because of mental incapacity, he will make the order to make that person a Ward of Court. A Committee is then appointed to manage the Ward’s assets. The committee is usually made up of family members. The proceeds of the Ward’s bank accounts are usually transferred to the Courts Service for safekeeping.
Why make somebody a Ward of Court?
A person that is of unsound mind or becomes mentally incapacitated needs to be protected. Their property and assets also need to be protected. Their assets will be used to maintain the Ward until such a time as they cease being a Ward or until their death. Their assets will also form part of their families’ future inheritance and accordingly it is in the Ward’s best interests to have their possessions and assets safeguarded.
Who can make an application to have somebody made a Ward of Court?
If a person considers that there are grounds for making a Wardship application, it is recommended the concerned person instruct a solicitor. This petitioner is usually a concerned family member
How to make a Ward of Court application?
- A petition together with a grounding affidavit from the petitioner must be drafted and lodged.
- Two medical reports must also be lodged confirming that the Ward is suffering from a mental illness and unable to manage his / her affairs.
- Stamp duty of €90.00 is payable when the declaration order is made
The Office of the Wards of Court usually process applications within 6-12 weeks. They will also arrange for their own independent doctor to assess the patient. A date is then provided for the petitioner’s solicitor to attend before the President of the High Court. The President will then make an order that the person be made a Ward of Court and appoint a Committee (usually made up of family members) together with a case officer from the Office of the Wards of Court. The legal and medical fees are then paid out of the proceeds of the Ward’s Estate.
Two concerned clients contacted our practice looking for legal advice in relation to their mother who was suffering from Dementia / Alzheimer’s disease. Her condition was worsening and she was incapable of managing her own affairs, paying bills and feeding herself. She also required a full-time carer. We advised our clients to make an application to have their mother made a Ward of Court. We applied on their behalf and ensured that both clients became committee members.
One of the Ward’s bank accounts was changed to a joint bank account to enable her children pay her bills, carer, house insurance, medical expenses, buy groceries and medicine together with any other expenses as they arise. The proceeds of the remaining bank accounts were transferred to the Courts Service for safekeeping. In the event that future medical treatment is required, the committee members can apply to the President of the High Court to obtain consent for this treatment.
If you would like to discuss a Wardship application, please contact Niall on 01 872 5255 or by email: email@example.com.