What is Adult Wardship?

The purpose of wardship is to protect the person and the property of an individual when they lack the capacity to do so themselves

When an adult is taken into wardship it means that the President of the High Court is satisfied on the basis of the medical evidence available that the person should be deemed to lack capacity and is incapable of managing his/her own affairs.

How does an individual become a ward of court?
If there are concerns that an adult lacks capacity to manage their own affairs a Solicitor can be instructed to make an application to have the person made a Ward of Court. The concerned person, usually a family member or friend, can instruct a solicitor to make the application.

The solicitor will need all available details in relation to the medical condition, next-of-kin, assets and income of the proposed ward to assist them in making the application. The Solicitor will prepare a Petition and two medical affidavits in accordance with Order 67 of the Rules of the Superior Courts. Further information is available under the Adult wardship heading.

View a flowchart covering a Section 15 Application for Wardship.

Who can apply to make a person a ward of court?

There are no restrictions on who can make an application however, most applications to bring a person into wardship are made by a family member. If there are no immediate family members, a friend or any other concerned party may instruct a Solicitor to make an application.

Can a person resident outside the Republic of Ireland be taken into wardship here?

Yes. However, it would generally only be necessary to do so where there is a need to sell immoveable property e.g. land or a dwelling house which is located within the jurisdiction. It is not be necessary to institute wardship proceedings in this jurisdiction if the only assets here were moveable assets such as a bank account.

Is there any alternative to taking a person into wardship for dealing with his property?

There is no alternative to wardship if the person has real property that needs to be sold. Unless the person prior to becoming losing capacity has made alternative arrangements for example by having entered into an Enduring Power of Attorney.

If a person has cash assets under €50,000 contact the office for information on an alternative to Wardship. 
 
Does notice of the application have to be served personally on all proposed wards?

Yes it does, even if the proposed ward is in a coma. This is a statutory requirement and it is only in very exceptional circumstances that substituted service is allowed, following an application to Court.

Does a proposed ward have the right to object?

Yes. The  objection must be lodged with the Wards of Court Office within seven days of the notice being served. An objection must be made in writing to the Registrar of Wards of Court and a period of time will then be allowed to submit medical evidence to support the objection.

Is there a cost involved in bringing a person into wardship?

The legal costs of a wardship application in most cases are paid out of the ward's own funds after they are lodged in to Court.

What happens to a ward's property?

After the President of the High Court has made the Declaration Order bringing a person into wardship a Committee is appointed to act on behalf of the ward. Generally, the proceeds of accounts held in financial institutions are lodged in to Court. The Committee is requested to submit proposals in relation to a dwelling house or lands (if any).

What is a Committee?

Committee is the person or persons (Joint Committees) appointed by Court Order to work in conjunction with the Wards of Court Office to deal with the affairs of the Ward.

The Committee is therefore the person appointed by the President of the High Court to act on behalf of the ward.

The person appointed committee is usually a relative however, where there is no suitable relative who is prepared to act or where there is disagreement among a ward's relatives about how the wards affairs should be managed, the Court may appoint the General Solicitor for Minors and Wards of Court to act as committee.

A Committee is accountable to the Wards of Court Office for all monies received and payments made on a Ward's behalf.

On the death, resignation or replacement of a committee a new committee is appointed by the Court.

More info is available on the role and duties of a Committee.

Who is the General Solicitor?

The General Solicitor for Minors and Wards of Court is a qualified solicitor in the service of the State who is appointed to act as Committee in certain circumstances by the President of the High Court. The General Solicitor is only involved in those cases in which the court specifically directs the General Solicitor to bring the wardship application or appoints the General Solicitor to act as committee.

Although the Office of the General Solicitor is located in the same building as the Office of Wards of Court, it is a completely separate entity and the General Solicitor acts in the same way as other committees - that is the General Solicitor only has those powers specifically given by the court. Like other committees, the General Solicitor is bonded and required to account to the court annually for monies received and disbursed.

Contact the General Solicitor's Office.

Is the ward liable for income tax?

A ward of Court has the same liability and are entitled to the same reliefs as other citizens. Any tax returns must be completed by the committee on behalf of the ward.

In some cases a Ward of Court, who received a personal injury award and is unable to work, may be entitled to an exemption under section 189 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997.

Medical care for wards.

If a ward needs medical treatment and consent is required by the hospital the approval of the President of the High Court should be obtained. A medical consent form should be completed by the treating doctor and sent to the office for consent to be given.

In an emergency situation  it may  not be possible to obtain consent of the Court and in those circumstances normal medical considerations should apply, and treatment should proceed.

Can a ward marry?

A person who is a ward because of mental incapacity cannot get married while being a ward of Court.  

Can a ward travel abroad?

A ward of Court may not leave the jurisdiction (the Republic of Ireland) without the consent of the Office of Wards of Court.

Can a ward resume the management of his own affairs?
Yes. Any application by a ward to be discharged from wardship must be made to the Registrar of Wards of Court in writing by the ward or by a solicitor instructed by the ward. The application should be based on medical evidence to the effect that the ward is now of sound mind and capable of managing his/her affairs. The President of the High Court will consider the application on the basis of the medical evidence available.

What happens when a ward dies?

A deceased ward’s property is dealt with in accordance with the requirements for Probate.

When a Ward of Court dies the Solicitor for the Committee is contacted to lodge a document called a Statement of Facts and then a Dismissal Order is drafted to finalise the wardship. Pending this, funds are made available by the court to pay expenses such as funeral expenses, nursing home charges etc

When a Grant of Probate or Administration has issued the original is sent to the Wards of Court Office and any remaining funds in Court are paid out to the Legal Personal Representative named on the Grant.

Procedure

Order 67

Appendix K  

Other relevant information

Role and duties of a Committee