What is a Wardship?
When a person has been made a Ward of Court, it means that they are no longer legally allowed to make decisions about their lives. While someone may be made a Ward of court if they are under the age of 18, the vast majority of wardship applications in Ireland are due to the mental incapacity of an individual and, as such, are deemed no longer able to manage their own affairs or assets.
Below, we have a provided a general outline of the wardship application process and what it entails if granted.
The Wardship application process
The decision to apply for a wardship application is usually determined by a family member or close friend of an adult who no longer possesses the mental capability to adequately manage their own affairs. The person who made this decision is referred to as the “Petitioner” when making a wardship application.
Once an application is drafted, known as a “petition”, it is then lodged with the Office of Wards of Court. The petition will contain broad information about the proposed Ward and their affairs, including the details of their liabilities, assets, the history and particulars of their incapacity, as well as the proposed request that the person be made a Ward of Court.
The petition will also be supported by two doctors who must give medical affidavits attesting to the proposed Ward’s mental incapacity and that, in their medical opinion, they can no longer look after their own affairs due to reasons of a stated illness or disability.
Once the proposal has been received and listed before the High Court, alongside the supporting documentation, a judge will then determine if the criteria has been met and whether it is in the best interests of the potential Ward. If so, then a Declaration Order will be executed granting the wardship application.
What happens when the wardship application has been granted?
Once the order has been made and a wardship application granted by the court, the Ward of Courts office will gather all relevant details in relation to the assets of the Ward. At this point, the judge will be in the position to give appropriate directions regarding the management of the Wards affairs.
An appointed committee, acting on behalf of the Ward and usually comprised of family members, will then carry out these directions that are deemed to be in the best interests of the Ward. Costs for such services will generally be paid by the Wards of Court office from the assets of the Ward. It is the duty of the committee to regularly report to the Wards of Court office about the affairs of the Ward.
Do I need a solicitor when submitting a wardship application for a loved one?
Before making a final decision and undertaking the difficult process of submitting a wardship application, it is strongly recommended that the petitioner seek the services and experience of a solicitor prior to submission.
If you are concerned about the mental capacity of someone close to you and want to ensure the security of their affairs and/or assets in the future, an experienced solicitor will be there to assist you every step of the way through the application process and beyond.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.*