Where a person becomes unable to manage his or her affairs because of mental incapacity an application can be made to the Court to have this person made a Ward of Court. The Court must decide whether the person is capable of managing his or her own property on his and her own behalf. If it is decided a person cannot manage his property because of mental incapacity a Committee is appointed to control the assets on behalf of the Ward. Where a person has been taken into wardship it means that the High Court is satisfied on the basis of the medical evidence presented to them that the person should be deemed to be of unsound mind and is incapable of managing his or her affairs.
If a person considers there are grounds to have someone made a Ward of Court, that person should instruct a solicitor to take the necessary steps. The solicitor must be furnished with all available details in relation to the medical evidence, next of kin, assets, income and liabilities of the proposed ward. The usual application procedure involves a petitioner asking the High Court to hold an injury into whether or not the proposed ward is of unsound mind and whether nor not the proposed ward is capable of managing his or her own personal property. The applications are normally made by a family member. The application must include the opinion of two doctors. Whereas they do not have to be psychiatrists they usually are.
Information to be included in the petition includes information about the Ward’s medical condition about his or her next of kin, about his or her assets and about his or her income. The High Court then decides whether or not to conduct an injury and if an injury is so ordered the Ward is then examined by a doctor sent by the High Court. If the application proceeds the Court may appoint a Committee to deal with the affairs of the Ward, the person who makes the application is usually the person authorised to act as the Committee. The Petition to have a person made a Ward of Court must be served on that person who can object to the injury to have him or her made a Ward of Court. Different types of property can be dealt with differently.
- A dwellinghouse may be sold to provide for nursing home expenses.
- Banks and Building Societies accounts are closed and the proceeds lodged in Court and invested for the benefit of the Ward to be made available for his or her maintenance and benefit.
- When payments are required for the maintenance and benefit of the Ward and his dependants the Committee should write to the Wards of Court Office and in particular the case officer assigned to the particular. In most cases Nursing Home accounts are paid directly by the Wards of Courts Office from funds in Court.
- An application by a Ward to be discharged from Wardship must be made to the Registrar of the Wards of Court in writing by the Ward or a solicitor on his behalf. The application should be based on medical evidence to the effect that the Ward is now not of unsound mind and capable of managing his or her own affairs. The High Court will consider the application on the basis of the medical evidence available.
On the death of a Ward after discharge of his or her death and when a grant or probate or administration has issued his or her estate is distributed amongst the persons entitled it is necessary for a formal application to be made to conclude the wardship proceedings, this is known as a dismissal application. Pending this funds are being available by the Court to pay such expenses such as funeral expenses, nursing home charges and any other legitimate expenses.
Often persons under the age of 18 years persons are taken into Wardship as minors for certain reasons, it might considered necessary to take a person under the age of 18 years into wardship where that minor has been awarded substantial damages by a Court or has special housing or care needs. If the house is being purchased from his or her own funds, the house must be registered in his or her own name and it is necessary for him or her to be taken into wardship so that the legal formalities on his or her behalf can be complied with the minor who has been brought into wardship attains the age of majority and if he or she has full mental capacity, he may then apply to the President of the High Court for payment out to him or her of any funds in Court to which he or she is entitled.
If you require any further information regarding the Wards of Court Procedure please contact Geraldine Kearney or Colm Kelly solicitors of this office at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com who have vast experience in dealing with wards of court applications.