If you are concerned that someone you know is no longer able to make decisions about his or her personal care or property interests, you may apply to the Family Court for a personal or property order under the PROTECTION OF PERSONAL AND PROPERTY RIGHTS ACT 1988. The people who commonly apply for an order are the person himself or herself, a relative, a social worker or a medical practitioner.
The court treats personal care and welfare issues separate from property matters. Accordingly, it may make two kinds of orders: personal orders and property orders.
The Act encourages the idea of self-reliance and the court has adopted a policy in which it imposes the less restrictive or interfering order.
In making a decision the court may request medical, psychiatric or psychological reports on the person concerned to be presented.
People who are able to have orders made for them include people suffering from senility or dementia, the comatose, the mentally ill, the intellectually handicapped, and people affected by drug or alcohol dependency.
The Act's scheme does not apply to people who have already provided, through an enduring power of attorney, for someone to handle their affairs should they become mentally incapable (see How to give a power of attorney).
The application must be filed at the Family Court. Copies of the application form are available from the Family Court.
There is no filing fee.
A personal order may be made if the person either:
The court may grant a variety of personal orders, including:
The court may make a property order appointing a manager for the person's property if the court believes that the person either:
The powers and duties of the manager are conferred by the court and are not limited by the value of the property.
If the property involved is not large (that is, no single item is worth more than $2,000 or the income or benefit is less than $20,000 a year) the court can make a personal order appointing someone to administer the person's property, instead of making a full "property order".
The Act contains a number of legal and procedural safeguards to ensure that the court intervenes only after proper processes have been followed:
Yes. If the court makes or refuses to make the order, or otherwise makes a final decision about the application, any party to the proceedings or the person about whom the application was made may appeal the court's decision to the High Court.
You have 20 working days after the decision is made to bring your appeal.
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