Northern Ireland - controllership

If you have not made an EPA and you become unable to manage your affairs, it may be necessary to appoint a controller to manage them on your behalf. Find out more on this page.  

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Northern Ireland: Enduring power of attorney
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Appointing a controller is done through the Office of Care and Protection (OCP). However, if managing your financial affairs consists simply of managing your income from benefits, it may be done through appointeeship. 

Who can become a controller?

A close relative usually acts as a controller, but it could be a friend or a solicitor. If nobody suitable can be found, the OCP can appoint the official solicitor to act as a controller.

A controller has a considerable number of responsibilities that can be very demanding and time-consuming. Anyone wishing to become a controller should consider whether they will be able to fulfil the obligations. They should read the free booklets produced by the OCP to ensure that they understand what being a controller involves.

What can a controller do?

The controller will manage your income to ensure that your day-to-day needs are met and bills are paid. They will also ensure that any property is kept in a good state, your income tax affairs are kept up to date and important documents are in order and kept safely.

The OCP must authorise any use of your capital, such as your home or other property, on your behalf. The controller must liaise with the OCP about any investments, which are usually made by the OCP, and about the sale of property, which must be approved by the OCP.

The controller should be aware of your needs and wishes and consult you as far as possible on how you would like your money to be spent.

A controller has to submit annual accounts to the OCP and take out a security bond to safeguard your assets. They can reclaim the cost from your money.

How do you become a controller? 

The first step is to get the application forms from the OCP. The OCP can also help with queries about the forms, although it cannot give legal advice. The person filling in the forms can apply to be appointed as controller themselves or ask for someone else to be appointed. The completed forms should be returned to the OCP with the application fee.

If the court is satisfied that this is the right course of action, the OCP will appoint a controller (or make a short procedure order, see below). Both these arrangements give the person selected the legal authority to manage your financial affairs on your behalf, in accordance with the court's instructions. In either case, the court will set out the exact duties and responsibilities involved.


There are a number of fees applicable. The OCP can give details of these.

Short procedure order

In some cases the OCP may decide to make a 'short procedure order', rather than appointing a controller. This is a simpler and more limited arrangement. It usually occurs where the value of someone’s assets or income is relatively low. It can also occur when there is no property to be sold and you do not have a level of income that the court considers in need of being managed by a controller. A short procedure order may authorise someone to:

  • use your pensions and income on your behalf
  • use your social security benefits and money held in a bank or building society
  • pay care home fees and any other debts and expenses
  • make sure any documents and valuables are safely looked after.

For full details of the criteria for a short procedure order contact the OCP. 

Useful organisations

Age NI 3

Lower Crescent
Belfast BT7 1NR

T 028 9024 5729
[email protected]

Provides information and advice for older people in Northern Ireland.

Office of Care and Protection

Room 2.2A, Second Floor
Royal Courts of Justice
Chichester Street
Belfast BT1 3JF

T 028 9072 4733

The Office of Care and Protection is part of the family division of the high court and is the administration office that deals with the registration of EPAs and the appointment of controllers.

The Law Centre

Belfast Office
124 Donegall Street
Belfast BT1 2GY

T 028 9024 4401
028 9023 9938 (textphone)
[email protected]

Western Area Office
9 Clarendon Street
Londonerry BT48 7EP

T 028 7126 2433
[email protected]

The Law Centre provides a legal service in specific areas of law to people on low incomes who live or work in Northern Ireland.

Further reading