If a person in Ireland is unable to manage his or her own affairs due to mental incapacity, and has not made an Enduring power of Attorney, an application can be made to the High Court to have that person made a Ward of Court. The scheme offers a solution to difficulties that arise as a result of unexpected illnesses where the finances of the sick person can be managed in an effective manner, whilst also providing the protection of the court of such assets.
Having considered all the evidence the court will make a decision as to whether the person is capable of managing his or her own property for his or her own benefit and for the benefit of his or her dependants.
A medical inspector will be appointed to report back to the court and, if it is decided that the person cannot manage his or her own property because of mental incapacity, a Committee will be appointed, accountable to the court, to take charge of the Ward's property on the Ward's behalf.
The Petition for Wardship (usually by a near relative) must be verified by an affidavit of the petitioner and supported by the affidavits of two doctors. The affidavits must be based upon recent medical examinations (within three months of the date of the presentation of the Petition for Wardship)
Under the Powers of Attorney Act 1996 it is possible for a person who has present mental capacity to make provision for what is to happen in the unfortunate event of incapacity arising in the future.
A fact not known by many is that where a person lacking capacity holds funds not exceeding €50,000.00 and these funds are held with a financial institution The President of The High Court will in certain circumstances allow these funds to be paid out to a family member without the necessity of a Wardship Application.