Table of contents
– Information provided by John O’Connor Solicitors
What is Wardship?
The Wardship procedure is the primary and default method of dealing with the affairs of a person who has declared to be of unsound mind and incapable of managing their affairs. One or more persons are appointed by the court (known as a ‘Committee’) to manage the affairs of the said person (known as the ‘Ward’) under the supervision and control of the court.
The purpose of the Wardship system in Ireland is to look after the welfare and to protect the property of a person suffering from a mental capacity or a minor. Within this guide we will focus on the system in place to protect adults who are unable to manage their affairs by reason of mental capacity.
What are the typical steps in a Wardship application?
There are number of types of Wardship applications which depending on the circumstances of the case can be made. However in the majority of cases where a person is alleged to be of unsound mind an application will be made by their next of kin to the High Court. This application will be based on the Affidavits of two medical doctors.
The person making the application, usually the next of kin of the person who has lost capacity, must include the following information within their petition;
- Details/Description of the person alleged to be of unsound mind (name, address, religion, age, description and marital status)
- Details/Description of the next of kin and/or any person residing with the person alleged to be of unsound mind
- Details/Description of the person making the application
- Details of the assets & liabilities of the person alleged to be of unsound mind
- A detailed statement of facts.
If satisfied the Court will then allow the application to proceed and will request an up to date medical examination & report.
Notice of the application must be served on the person alleged to be of unsound mind and they will be given an opportunity to lodge a notice of objection.
If there is no objection from the respondent or a family member the Court will make an Order declaring that the person who the application has been made in relation to of unsound mind and order that they be taken under the Wardship of the court. The person is then known as a Ward.
A number of other Orders will also be made the most important being the appointment of a one or more persons (‘the Committee’) to manage the Ward’s affairs and take responsibility for the care of the Ward and directing the lodgement in court of all of the deceased’s liquid assets.
A committee of both the person and or the estate of the Ward is required and in practice the same person/s will usually be appointed as both. The committee of the person looks after the physical welfare and personal care of the Ward while the committee of the estate is responsible for the person’s property and investments.
In the event that there is no one willing to act as committee or there is a dispute in relation to whom should act the General Solicitor for Minors and Wards of Court will act.
Although the Committee is usually entitled to receive in income on behalf of the Ward together with any funds invested in court for expenditure on the Ward a separate bank account must be opened for the Ward and annual accounts must be filed with the court.
The Committee are unable to sell the Ward’s property without leave of the court and only in certain circumstances (inability to let a property or insufficient funds in estate).
Given the complexity of this type of application it is advisable to seek the assistance of a Solicitor.
How long does the Wardship process take?
Although the time taken can vary in the majority of cases the process will take three to six weeks from the date the relevant documentation has been lodged in the Office of Wards of Court.
Can a person be discharged from Warship?
Yes. If the court is satisfied that the ward is of sound mind and capable of managing his affairs it can discharge the Ward from Warship.
What happens on the death of the Ward?
On the death of a Ward it is necessary for an application to be made to conclude the Wardship proceedings. Once this has been done the Ward’s estate is administered as normal. Once a Grant of Representation has been extracted the estate is distributed amongst the persons entitled either in accordance with the terms of the ward’s will or under the rules of intestacy.
For further information on wardship, contact John O’Connor Solicitors today.