Commonly Asked Questions
A protected person is somebody who is no longer capable of managing their own affairs and has had either a protection order by the Court (under the Aged and Infirm Persons’ Property Act 1940) or an administration order by SACAT (under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1993) put in place. A protection or administration order appoints Public Trustee as manager or administrator of some or all of a protected person’s estate, which includes all bank accounts, investments, property, and/or other assets, and in this way the estate becomes protected too.
Our role in financially administering your estate begins as soon as we receive the order from SACAT or the Court. The order is effective immediately, but it does take time for us to ensure everything is set up for us to manage your estate properly. We need to re-direct your income to us, confirm your assets and liabilities, and establish budget arrangements. It can also take up to six weeks before organisations such as Centrelink can make your income (e.g. pension) available to us.
Our first objective, upon the commencement of an administration order, will be to consult with you, your authorised liaison person, and/or carers, where:
- The status of our appointment and our roles and responsibilities will be clarified.
- The administration process will be explained, including investment of funds and managing any potential legal issues that may arise.
- An affordable budget will be discussed and will take into account your wishes.
- Our fees and charges will be explained.
We will then:
- Notify relevant organisations and parties of our appointment.
- Confirm your income sources and ensure all income, which includes full pension entitlements, is redirected to us.
- Confirm your assets and liabilities.
- Safeguard and secure your assets and ensure they are adequately insured and physically secure. This process may also involve registering a caveat on your real estate to prevent unauthorised transactions.
- Review and invest your funds in accordance with your instructions and the legislation applicable to trustees and attorneys.
- Develop your budget based on consultation with you and your support network, and set up regular payments as appropriate (for example, mortgage payments).
One of our responsibilities is to provide you with regular financial reports and conduct regular reviews of our financial administration of your estate, which includes ensuring the budget we have developed for you is suitable and that any investment strategies we have implemented are appropriate.
Public Trustee will also consult with you or your guardian about the purchase and disposal of assets and proactively manage any estate issues that arise.
In many cases the protected person receives an allocated allowance for personal spending from within the budget that has been developed for them. The allowance will generally be deposited into the protected person’s bank account via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) so that they can access the funds directly.
The protected person and/or their liaison person can also make requests for additional money for specific purchases. Sometimes we will have to discuss with the protected person and/or their liaison person the affordability and suitability of the purchase.
If it is agreed that the purchase should go ahead, we will negotiate with the protected person and/or their liaison person as to the best way for payment to be made. Usually we will make payment directly to the vendor of the item or service and advise the protected person and/or their liaison person when the payment has been processed. Other methods of payment for special items may be arranged if needed.
A carer or liaison person must consult with us about any proposed purchases so that we can ensure that the purchase is affordable and appropriate for the protected person. If the purchase is to go ahead, we will determine with the carer and/or liaison person the best way to make the purchase and how reimbursement of costs, if any, will be made. If reimbursement is required then the carer and/or liaison person must provide evidence of payment (e.g. receipts, bank confirmation, etc.) before the reimbursement will be made.
We are able to appoint an interstate agent to manage the assets of the protected person (for example real estate) that are located outside South Australia where necessary.
There are certain documents that will need to be provided to us in the case of a revocation or the death of the protected person. Upon receipt of the documents we will then:
- Pay out the greater part of the funds we hold on behalf of the protected person to the authorised recipient of the funds
- Provide the protected person, or in the case of death their legal representative, with written information about the payment arrangements we have in place on behalf of the protected person
- Write to the relevant organisations to advise them that our authority to administer the protected person’s estate has ceased
- Prepare a final statement and pay out the remaining balance of the protected person’s funds
The Court or SACAT can extend an order for a deceased person for two months to allow for Public Trustee to finalise any complicated or critical matters in regard to their estate.
A next friend (or litigation guardian) is appointed by the Court to act on behalf of a minor (child under 18 years) or an incapacitated person to either take action on behalf of the person or defend an action brought against them.
If part of an estate that we administer includes funds, then these funds (including cash, asset proceeds, and estate income) will be received into our Cash Common Fund account. Funds from all of the estates that we manage will go into this account and all expenditure is paid from this account. The money held in the Cash Common Fund earns interest equivalent to current short term interest rates.
Where a customer holds funds greater than $10,000 and the customer does not need to draw on the funds in the near future, the funds may be invested in one of our Standard Investment Strategies or in superannuation (according to the needs and eligibility of the customer).
We carefully review each customer’s personal and financial circumstances (taking into account their needs, wishes, and any substantial purchases they may need now or in the future) to determine the most appropriate level of investment in our Standard Investment Strategies.
SACAT or the Court will specify in a protected person’s order whether or not they may make a Will and, if so, the conditions under which the Will must be made.
A protected person is entitled to receive information about their finances and we generally provide statements to customers each quarter. A protected person may request access to their financial information at any time.
A protected person’s financial affairs are confidential. We must comply with the State Government’s Information Privacy Principles (IPPs). It is important to be aware that sometimes an order from SACAT or the Court may allow or require us to provide information about a person’s financial affairs to a third party in accordance to the Public Trustee’s privacy guidelines.