How to Avoid Becoming a Ward of Court
You can avoid becoming a Ward of Court by making an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) while you still have mental capacity.
This allows you to nominate an attorney to make personal care decisions on your behalf.
An RTE Investigates report
Following an RTE Investigates report, the implications of becoming a Ward of Court is currently a hot topic in Ireland. However, Wards of Court are nothing new. At the time of writing, there are 2,124 adult Wards of Court in the State, all of whom have had their rights and liberties taken away. As solicitors, we have long been advocating for people to avoid this dire situation by putting an Enduring Power of Attorney in place.
What is a Ward of Court?
If you did not see the programme, then let us explain Wards of Court in more detail. When someone loses mental capacity in Ireland, all their assets are typically frozen (unless they are jointly owned). Unless the individual had the foresight to put an EPA in place, then no one can access their assets. Furthermore, no one has the legal authority to manage their affairs, be it consenting to medical treatment or selling their property.
This puts the individual’s family members in bit of a fix. Their only option is to make their loved one a Ward of Court. An application must be made to the court, demonstrating that the individual in question is of ‘unsound mind’. If the court agrees, it will appoint a person (or persons) to act on the individual’s behalf. This person or group of people is known as the Committee. But the catch is that the Committee’s powers come from the court.
In other words, the Committee can only do what the court authorises. So, let’s imagine that you lose mental capacity due to old age, injury or illness. You are made a Ward of Court and your children are appointed as the Committee. Every time you need medical treatment for which a consent form is required, they have to get the court’s permission. It is the same story if they want to take you abroad or sell your property.
In fact, when you are made a Ward of Court, all of your assets fall under the control of the court. Suddenly, you have absolutely no control over any aspect of your life – and nor do your family members. The court holds all the power, and your Committee must get the court’s approval every time they want to help you. This is a real headache for your family, and it probably isn’t what you want either.
Make an Enduring Power of Attorney
So, how do you avoid ever becoming a Ward of Court as an adult? The answer is to put an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in place while you can – meaning while you have mental capacity. An EPA allows you to appoint a person (or persons) to make personal care decisions on your behalf. This person is called your attorney, and might be your spouse, partner, child, friend or colleague.
Your attorney’s powers only take effect if and when you lose mental capacity. Should this ever happen, then your attorney can begin making decisions straightaway. A court application is not necessary. Your attorney also has the freedom to make personal care decisions without involving the courts, making everyone’s life a lot easier. Also, decisions are being made by someone you know and trust – not by some unknown employees at the High Court.
If you want to make an EPA, then Susan Mullins from our team can help you. She specialises in Powers of Attorney and can talk to you about EPAs in more detail, explaining who can be your attorney and what an EPA does. She can then assist you in the writing of your EPA. You are legally required to involve a solicitor when making an EPA, and you will find Susan to be professional yet empathetic.
Make your EPA today
To make an Enduring Power of Attorney, contact us Mullins & Treacy LLP Solicitors. We are client focused and results driven.
Contact us now
To find out more about making an Enduring Power of Attorney, contact us for legal advice. We are client focused and results driven. Call us on 051 391 488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no obligation enquiry.
Before you go…
At Mullins & Treacy LLP Solicitors, we are client focused and results driven. If you live in Ireland and you need a solicitor, contact us today. We can help with:
Powers of Attorney