Court finds €1m land owned by ward of court can be sold for €100,000

Relatives who will buy land judged to have provided more than €1m of care to the man

A High Court judge  approved the conditional sale. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A High Court judge approved the conditional sale. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

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A judge has approved the conditional sale, for €100,000, of lands worth €1 million owned by an elderly man who has been a ward of court for more than half a century.

The transfer is to relatives of the man who have cared for him for decades and whose care has been valued at more than €1 million, the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly noted.

The relatives intend to continue caring for the man but the conditions of the transfer provide that should he require nursing-home care in the future, a portion of the lands can be sold to cover the costs.

The man inherited the lands from his parents, who died when he was very young. He has been a ward of court (someone deemed to be unable to manage their assets because they lack the mental capacity to do so), for more than 50 years. As he lacks the capacity to make a will, the relatives sought to purchase the lands for €100,000.

The general solicitor for wards of court initially opposed their application but, after certain conditions were agreed, adopted a neutral position. The application then came on Monday for decision before Mr Justice Kelly, who manages the wards list.

The judge said it was an “unusual” application and what was envisaged was not a “straightforward sale” but one that met the concerns of both sides.

The relatives have provided the man with care in excess of what he would get if he was in a nursing home and intend to continue doing so into the future, he said. They had received no funding towards that care, the costs of which a nursing consultant had estimated at more than €1 million.

As the man has dozens of first cousins, many of whom have had no dealings with him, all would get a portion of his estate should he die intestate. That would mean the relatives who have cared for him would get the same share as those who “have done nothing”.

The proposed transfer would afford the man security as to his future care and would also provide some compensation to the relatives for the care provided to date,

In the circumstances, Mr Justice Kelly said he would permit the transfer as it was “fair, just and equitable”.

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