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Making a Wardship Application

An application is made to the High Court by a person (generally a family member or next of kin) to hold an inquiry as to whether a person is incapable of managing their assets. 

The person who makes the application is known as the Petitioner. The Petitioner completes a written submission to the High Court called an “Originating Petition for Inquiry”.

The Originating Petition for Inquiry contains the following information:

  • The proposed Ward’s name, age, date of birth, occupation and address;

  • If the proposed Ward has been residing in a nursing home, the length of time they have been residing there and the address of the nursing home should also be inserted;

  • The doctor’s name and address who the proposed Ward is under the care of, should also be stated;

  • The date from when the proposed Ward was of unsound mind and incapable of managing their person and property;

  • The application should make reference to the fact that the proposed Ward has been examined by two registered medical practitioners, whose affidavits setting out the proposed Ward’s present mental condition must be filed with the application before the Court;

  • The names, addresses and description of the next-of-kin;

  • The total estimated value of the assets of the proposed Ward;

  • Estimated income;

  • Estimated debts, as far as the Petitioner is aware;

  • The Petitioner’s address and relationship to the proposed Ward;

  • An undertaking by the Petitioner to discharge the costs and expenses of any visitation of the Respondent, or otherwise incident to the inquiry the High Court Judge will need to make, in case the petition is dismissed or not proceeded with.

  • The application is accompanied by a doctors report(s) and Affidavits. Two separate doctors should examine the proposed Ward, usually the Ward’s GP and another doctor to determine whether in their opinion the person is capable of managing their own affairs.

The application to make a person a Ward of Court must be served on the proposed person. A person can object to being made a Ward of Court. When an application is made, the High Court decides whether the person is capable of managing their assets. This decision is made on the basis of medical evidence available to the Court and the Court feels that it is necessary for the individual welfare and protection of their assets that they are made a Ward of Court.

For a person to be made a Ward of Court, the High Court must be satisfied that the person is incapable of managing his or her own assets and affairs.

In this regard, the High Court can decide:

  • The High Court can decide that the person is capable of managing their assets, and accordingly, the application will be rejected; or

  • The High Court can decide that an inquiry is required. The proposed Ward is then examined by a doctor appointed by Court. If the High Court decides that the person should be made a Ward of Court,  a committee is then appointed to deal with their affairs.

Representation of the person subject to a Wardship Order:

Ward of court applications are presented to the High Court in a wide variety of circumstances. In most circumstances, it is beneficial that the proposed ward be legally represented, for example where a detention order is sought as part of the application, typically in a nursing home or healthcare setting. Stafford Legal can represent the Ward directly as their Guardian ad Litem or the committee as directed by the General Solicitor and ensure that his or her interests are at the forefront of all decision making by the court and others. 

 

Pending commencement of the Assisted Decision–Making (Capacity) Act, 2015. This Act is yet to be fully enacted into law but if and when this should happen it will revolutionise the way vulnerable persons are dealt with.

Please see the following link on the HSE’s website for further useful information:

 

https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/qid/other-quality-improvement-programmes/assisteddecisionmaking/about-the-assisted-decision-making-act.

 

Stafford Legal will be on hand to assist you with navigating your way through all the various legal mechanisms that would come about as a result of the proposed change in the Wardship framework.

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