Administration may be needed when a person with disability cannot make reasonable judgements about managing their estate, and there are concerns about the decisions they are making, or others are making for them.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) may appoint an administrator if it is in the best interests of the person and a financial or legal decision about the person’s estate needs to be made.
The Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 sets out the considerations that VCAT needs to make when appointing an administrator.
VCAT receives applications for administration and can appoint an administrator for a person with disability who is 18 years of age or over.
An administrator makes only financial and legal decisions related to the estate of a person with disability (the represented person), such as banking, paying bills or selling property.
An administrator cannot make personal and lifestyle decisions, such as where a person lives or what health care they may need.
An administrator must make decisions that:
- are in the best interests of the represented person
- take into account the represented person’s wishes and give effect to those wishes wherever possible
- are least restrictive of the person’s freedom of decision and action as possible in the circumstances.
Importantly, an administrator should encourage and support the represented person to make their own decisions, where possible.
An administrator’s financial interests must not conflict with those of the represented person.
Administrators are accountable to VCAT for the decisions they make. Further safeguards to ensure that administrators act in the best interests of the represented person include:
- the requirement for administrators to regularly lodge an account of the represented person’s finances for examination, as directed by VCAT
- the provision of support and advice from VCAT at any time
- the provision of support and advice from OPA
- VCAT’s reassessment of an order if is in the best interests of the represented person to do so.
VCAT may appoint an administrator to manage the property and financial matters of a missing person if it is satisfied that:
- it is not known whether the missing person is alive
- reasonable efforts have been made to find the missing person
- for at least 90 days, the missing person has not contacted anyone who lives at their last-known address, or any relative or friend with whom the person is likely to communicate.
Detailed information about administration and missing persons can be found in the publication Safe Keeping: A guide to managing the affairs of missing persons. This guide answers important questions such as how to establish:
- that reasonable efforts have been made to find the missing person
- whether or not the missing person is alive.
Generally, only a professional administrator is entitled to a fee.
When no remuneration is specified in the administration order, an administrator can apply to VCAT explaining the reasons and the basis on which the fee should be calculated. For example, an hourly rate or a percentage of the estate or its income.
An administrator can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses by deducting these expenses from the estate.