What is a guardianship order?

A person with a mental incapacity may be unable to make certain important decisions about personal matters such as accommodation, health and lifestyle. 

SACAT can authorise another person under an order to make those decisions for the person. This order is called a guardianship order. You can apply to SACAT for a guardianship order.

What does SACAT consider in making a guardianship order?

SACAT will not make a guardianship order unless satisfied that the person:

  • has a mental incapacity and
  • that there is a need for an order to be made.

SACAT will consider and weigh up evidence to decide if there is a need for an order and, if so, what type of order should be made. SACAT must consider: 

  • what, in SACAT’s opinion, the person’s wishes would have been had they not become mentally incapacitated, if there is evidence available about that
  • what the person’s present wishes are, if these can be expressed
  • whether existing arrangements for the person’s treatment and care are adequate and should not be disturbed
  • what is the least restrictive of the person’s rights and personal autonomy, that also ensures that the person is properly cared for and protected.

Financial decisions

A guardian has no authority under a guardianship order to make financial decisions for the person. This is the role of an administrator appointed by SACAT under an administration order or a person acting under an Enduring Power of Attorney if there is one in place. 

Where an administrator is appointed (who may be a different person), the guardian and administrator must work together and keep each other informed of any substantial decisions or actions.   

What is a protected person?

If SACAT makes a guardianship order or an administration order , or both, the person who the order is about is described as a ‘protected person’ (under the Guardianship and Administration Act). This means that their legal rights are being protected under the order made by SACAT.