General Solicitor for Minors and Wards of Court - Office business
Office of General Solicitor for Minors and Wards of Court
Principal roles of the General Solicitor
The principal roles of the General Solicitor are to act as the committee of the estate (or the guardian of the fortune) and as solicitor in those cases where she is so appointed by the President of the High Court:-
The term committee denotes the person appointed by the High Court to act in the affairs of a ward. The committee requires court approval to carry out her various functions. As committee the General Solicitor assumes the legal identity of a ward or minor.
In those cases involving the affairs of minors that are assigned to the General Solicitor by the High Court the General Solicitor acts as guardian of the fortune in relation to their assets. 'Guardian of the Fortune' is the legal term used to denote the person authorised by the High Court to act in relation to the assets of a minor. It is not equivalent to the term 'guardian' as it arises in custody matters.
It may also be necessary for the General Solicitor as a solicitor to undertake legal work on behalf of those wards of court and minors for whom she acts as committee.
As committee, the General Solicitor is required to manage the affairs of a ward and to protect his property and assets and apply them for his benefit. This includes the following:-
- On being asked by court to assess a ward's needs the committee may liaise with members of the following groups and make recommendations to court based on these consultations:-
- Health professionals; psychiatrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, nurses and doctors.
- Property experts; auctioneers, architects, surveyors, engineers, planners, builders, tradesmen and agricultural advisors.
- Financial experts; accountants, tax advisors, stockbrokers and actuaries.
Other legal experts; barristers and solicitors
The committee may take over the management of a ward's lands to include instructing auctioneers, entering into letting agreements for houses, lands and milk quotas, collecting rents and verifying insurance requirements. The assets may require alterations or repairs which the committee arranges to be carried out subject to court approval and to the ward's finances being sufficient to meet the cost.
The committee where instructed collects the relevant information and engages an accountant to deal with a ward's income tax. Where a ward is in receipt of a gift or inheritance the office files tax returns and pays from the ward's funds any gift or inheritance tax. If a ward had disposed of property the office may be required to deal with any capital gains tax liability.
The committee will often be authorised by the court to arrange for the lodging in court of the proceeds of the ward's bank accounts, where it is invested for the benefit of the ward by the Accountant of the Courts of Justice. From time to time the committee will apply to court for money from a ward's investments to meet the cost of a ward's ongoing expenses.
The committee may be authorised to apply for and collect a ward's income be it from pensions, annuities, trusts or lettings.
The committee investigates and makes recommendations to court in respect of requests from a ward of court or his dependants for payments out of the ward's funds in court. Depending on the amount of the ward's funds and income, the committee may with the court's approval make the following regular payments from a ward's funds; personal or carers allowance, comforts or clothing allowance, hospital maintenance, nursing home fees, medical expenses, taxes, insurance premia and holiday allowance.
The General Solicitor as committee is accountable to the President of the High Court for all monies received, held and disbursed on behalf of a ward by the General Solicitor and is required to file accounts on a periodic basis with the Office of the Wards of Court for vouching and examination. Committee fees are payable to the committee for the collection of this income. These fees are calculated at various rates depending on the type of income received.
Wards' and minors' legal affairs
As indicated above the committee assumes the legal identity of the ward or minor. As committee, when dealing with their legal affairs, the General Solicitor for Minors and Wards of Court can also act as the ward's or minor's solicitor. The General Solicitor can only act as solicitor in those matters assigned to her by the registrar of the Wards of Court. The General Solicitor cannot take on private clients like a solicitor in private practice. The legal aspects which commonly arise in a wardship matter are set out below.
The General Solicitor may act as committee and solicitor in dealing with any conveyancing aspects of a ward's case. These transactions include :-
Purchase and sale of houses and lands.
Letting agreements and commercial leases.
First registration of a ward's interest in lands under section 49 of the Registration of Title Act,1964.
Releases of burdens on titles to include the sale of rights of residence, maintenance and support owned by wards.
- The General Solicitor may, as committee and solicitor, institute proceedings on behalf of a ward or defend a ward in proceedings taken against him. These proceedings may include:-
- Personal injury actions in District, Circuit, High or Supreme Courts.
- Actions to recover a ward's monies or lands.
- Actions under section 117 of the Succession Act, 1965 on behalf of wards to recover for them an equitable share in the estates of their deceased parents.
- Landlord and tenant proceedings.
- Actions for the recovery of damages due to professional negligence.
- Family law proceedings.
- The General Solicitor may as committee and solicitor take out administration or probate to the estate of a relative of a ward, collect in the assets and distribute the estate according to law. The General Solicitor may be required to elect under section 115 of the Succession Act, 1965 to claim a ward's legal right share in the estate of his late spouse.
- The General Solicitor cannot take instructions from a ward to make a will and in such circumstances it is necessary for the ward to make contact with the Office of Wards of Court about the testamentary requirements in the making of a will.
- A ward of court is not in a position to enter into a legally binding contract and where so authorised by the court the General Solicitor would enter into any such contract on behalf of a ward.
- The General Solicitor is entitled to recover fees and outlays from the ward's estate in respect of the work carried out as committee and solicitor and these fees are required to be measured by the Registrar for Wards of Court or taxed by the Taxing Master.
In addition to acting as solicitor in respect of the legal affairs of individual wards, the General Solicitor also undertakes the following legal work:-
- The issue of wardship proceedings in respect of an individual :-
The President of the High Court may direct the General Solicitor to bring wardship proceedings in respect of an individual. If that individual ward is brought into wardship the General Solicitor may or may not be appointed committee.
Where a solicitor brings a wardship bill before the Taxing Master to have costs measured, the General Solicitor may be requested by the registrar of the Wards of Court to act as opponent before the Taxing Master in respect of the costs claimed.
- Amicus Curiae (friend of the court):-
In certain instances wherethe General Solicitor is not committee of an individual ward, she may be directed by the President of the High Court to represent a particular interest in proceedings before the court which involve a ward or have a bearing on wardship matters.
The General Solicitor is entitled to costs
The General Solicitor is entitled to costs in respect of the work carried out as committee and solicitor. These costs are generally paid from the ward's funds. The committee arranges for the drawing of a formal Bill of Costs by a Legal Costs Accountant. These bills are measured by the registrar for Wards of Court or are Taxed by the Taxing Master.
If the information you require is not to be found here we will try to answer your queries if you contact the office.
Please note that the affairs of all wards of court are confidential and for this reason it may not be possible to answer some queries if they relate to individual wards.