Ward of Court

A person not able to manage his or her affairs may need to be made a Ward of Court.

This usually arises due to mental incapacity and can also arise in the case of minors under 18 years of age. Usually one or more family members makes the application.

The immediate benefits Wardship brings are the ability to access funds and assets that might otherwise be tied up and protection of the Ward. We have over 25 years’ experience in this intricate area of law.

The Wards of Court process deals with matters such as:

  • Payment of living and other expenses.
  • Access to bank accounts.
  • Whether to sell or retain property. Who decides? How is this done?
  • Ability to live independently or if residential care is needed.

With increasing numbers diagnosed with cognitive disabilities such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia we are finding much greater demand for our Wards of Court service.

The family of a lady suffering from longstanding Alzheimer’s and dementia found they could no longer care for her at home. A Nursing Home was identified, part to be paid for by the state and part from the lady’s own bank account. As she was unable to manage her financial affairs and access her account, it was necessary to have her made a Ward of Court. This saw one of the children appointed her “committee” to look after her day to day interests, her funds freed up and a direct debit put in place to pay her care expenses.

A long stay single elderly resident of a Nursing Home. Cash ran out and it was necessary to sell some of her property to fund her continued stay in the home. Once she was made a Ward of Court it was possible to sell the premises and set aside the proceeds for her care

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, also known as the “Fair Deal”, is a scheme of financial support for people who need long-term nursing home care. It was introduced in 2009. Under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, a successful applicant makes a contribution towards the cost of care and the State pays the balance. The nursing home can be public, private or voluntary so long as it is approved. Anyone ordinarily resident in the State can apply. The Fair Deal covers long-term nursing home care only and does not apply to short-term care (e.g. respite, convalescent or day).

The HSE administers the Fair Deal scheme. We can assist with the application process which has three steps:

Step 1 – Application for Care Needs Assessment. This is to determine that the applicant needs long-term nursing home care.

Step 2 – Application for State Support (Financial Assessment). The Financial Assessment looks at the applicant’s assets and income to work out how much the applicant will be required to pay and how much the State will fund. For example, if the cost of care is assessed at €1,000 per week and the applicant’s weekly contribution is assessed at €300 the HSE will pay the balance of €700 per week.

All applicants must complete Steps 1 and 2.

Step 3 – Application for Nursing Home Loan (“Ancillary State Support”). This is optional. It gives applicants the opportunity to defer paying that part of their contribution which has been assessed based on their assets (as opposed to income) and to allow the HSE make the payments instead on the basis that the sums involved form an accruing loan to the applicant from the State.

It is possible to repay the loan at any time although in practically all cases the loan is repaid after the applicant’s death. The amount ultimately repaid is determined by the type of property involved and the so called “three year cap” may limit the sum repayable. One of the benefits of the Nursing Home Loan is that an applicant is not forced to sell property during his or her lifetime. A person may choose to apply for the Nursing Home Loan when making the initial application or at any time while resident in the nursing home.

It is important to note applicants cannot avail of State funding for a nursing home place prior to approval by the HSE. In certain cases, transitional or interim funding may be available. The standard Fair Deal application form can be seen here.

If a person who needs nursing home care is unable to process an application under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, a “specified person” such as his/her next of kin (e.g. spouse, child or other relative), his/her Committee (if he/she has been made a Ward of Court) or his/her Attorney (if an Enduring Power of Attorney has been made and registered) can apply.

If a Nursing Home Loan is sought and the person needing care has neither a Committee nor an Attorney application can be made to the Circuit Court to appoint a Care Representative to process the application and set up the Nursing Home Loan.

In certain cases, where there are no significant assets that need to be administered separately to the need to fund nursing home care, it may not be necessary to proceed to a Ward of Court application.

Wardship applications are made to the High Court. If the application is successful, the person is made a Ward of Court. The Wards of Court office controls the ward’s assets on his or her behalf. This is usually in conjunction with a family member or members (known as the ‘committee’).

At Thomas Barry & Company the basic information we look for is:

  • The proposed Ward of Court’s name, address, date of birth and PPS number.
  • The proposed Ward of Court’s family circumstances.
  • An outline of the proposed Ward of Court’s assets and liabilities, income and expenditure.
  • The proposed Ward of Court’s medical adviser’s name, address and contact details.

If you cannot readily supply all of the above, we will work with what you can give us.

Most people would prefer to make their own decisions and to avoid running the risk of being made a Ward of Court. A number of pre-emptive measures, called Advance Care Directives, can be taken to avoid wardship including:

  • Enduring Power of Attorney

By completing an Enduring Power of Attorney (also known as a “living will”) you will go a long way towards making your own decisions and eliminating the possibility of having yourself taken into wardship in later life.

  • Special Needs Trust

If you have responsibility for a person with special needs, you should consider a special needs trust. This will allow persons appointed by you to make key decisions when you are no longer able to do so.

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Legal Services from Dublin Solicitors

Since 1991, Thomas Barry & Company Solicitors, Dublin have continued to expand and develop our legal services. We will use our experience and expertise to provide advice, guidance and legal representation in relation to your legal issues. We can provide both commercial and private clients with a tailored and effective service to help them reach a successful conclusion.

+ 353 1 677 3434

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