According to research more than 750,00 people in the UK suffer with dementia and it’s estimated that by 2021 this figure will increase to over 2 million.
‘Dementia’ describes brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, which result in a loss of brain function.
A dementia patient may reach a time when they cannot write and sign cheques, or even handle cash. Families often manage this among themselves but it’s important to bear in mind that once a doctor decides that the person is no longer able to manage their affairs, the court dictates that a curatorship must be put in place.
As the number of people suffering with dementia increases, so too will the requirement for curatorships. But what does this mean for a family member who requires one – and what might it mean for you if you are asked to perform that role?
Under the Mental Health (Jersey) Law 1969, the Royal Court will appoint a curator for a person who is incapable of managing and administering their own affairs by reason of a mental disorder or addiction. Curatorships are required for illnesses other than dementia, but this is the main cause.
The first stage of the curatorship process involves a medical assessment, signed off by two medical practitioners. The court will accept applications from family members to be appointed curator, but where there may be friction within the family, the court will seek to appoint an independent third party – perhaps the family lawyer.
Once the Solicitor General is satisfied with the information provided and happy that the proposed curator is suitable for the role, he or she will be summonsed to attend court and take the Oath of Curator, in which they undertake to manage and administer the person’s assets in accordance with the Mental Health (Jersey) Law 1969.
Evidence is put to the court regarding the person who is to be subject to the curatorship, usually as a written submission but in some cases in person.
It is important to remember that the curator is answerable to the court in relation to their management and administration of the person’s property and affairs. For example, within 90 days of the appointment, they must submit an inventory of all property, both movable and immovable and on the anniversary of the appointment, the curator must deliver a copy of the previous 12 months’ accounts. In some instances it may be necessary to apply to the court for permission to deal with the assets in a certain way.
There are four ways in which a curatorship can come to an end:
1. If the person is later deemed capable of managing their affairs, a successful application to bring the curatorship to an end may be possible
2. If the person moves permanently from Jersey and all of their assets are transferred to the new country of residence. In this case a new curator must be appointed in the new jurisdiction
3. A curator can resign, but the court will seek to appoint a new curator
4. A curator ceases to hold office on the person’s death.
The circumstances in which a curator is appointed can often be very difficult for family and friends. Please speak to Collas Crill’s team if you would like any information or advice.
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