What Happens if a Ward of Court Recovers?
Often we receive queries from clients worried about a family member who appears to be losing their abilities to manage their own affairs due to illness, such as dementia. This loss of capacity is very difficult to deal with emotionally and it is heart breaking to watch a loved one slip away from us. It is also very difficult in practical terms, particularly when dealing with accessing bank accounts or dealing with property.
Unless there is an Enduring Power of Attorney in place the only option for our clients is to apply to the High Court to have their family member declared as a Ward of Court and have a committee appointed to deal with their affairs.
What is the Committee?
The committee is usually made up of family members and are appointed by the Court. The Committee appointed only has the power to do what the Court authorise them to do. In cases where there are disputes among the family members, a Court official, called the General Solicitor, can be appointed.
What happens if a Ward of Court can now manage their own affairs?
Although there is provision for a person to be discharged from wardship, should they regain capacity to manage their affairs; this tends not to happen in the instance of dementia or other progressive conditions of cognitive impairment.
Should a Ward of Court regain their mental capacity and take care of their own affairs, an application can be made to the Registrar of Wards of Court by the Ward or their solicitor. In order to be discharged from being Ward of Court, medical evidence supporting the claim that the Ward has regained their ability to manage their own affairs needs to be presented with the application.
Importance of Ward of Court Procedure
Although it can be perceived as a lengthy and restrictive process, for some people out there, the Ward of Court procedure can be lifesaving! Recently, the Irish Times reported an interesting case came before the High Court involving a lady in her fifties suffering from a brain tumour. Judge Kelly had made an order temporarily declaring the lady a ward of court after she refused surgery to remove the tumour and then the Judge permitting the surgery to take place.
Following surgery and recovery, Judge Kelly was presented with a box of chocolates by the lady as she thanked him for his actions. The Court noted that the lady had now regained capacity to manage her own affairs and the previous orders were discharged and the wardship enquiry not proceeded with further.
The importance of the Wards of Court procedure cannot be overstated; it is a valuable tool for the protection of vulnerable people.