Administration: OPA information

The administrator's role is to ensure that financial and legal decisions are made in the best interests of the represented person.
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People with decision-making disabilities often depend on family, friends and service providers for support. These informal networks help the person manage their financial affairs. When a person does not have a close support network, or the people providing the support require formal authority to make financial transactions, an administrator may need to be appointed.

The appointment of an administrator is governed by the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990.

An application for the appointment of an administrator should be made to the State Administrative Tribunal when the need for formal financial and legal assistance is required.

The Tribunal hearing will decide:

  • whether to appoint an administrator
  • and if so, what authority the administrator will have.

The appointment of an administrator is viewed as a last resort because it removes a person's right to make decisions for themselves.

Tribunal hearings will also consider whether there are any less restrictive alternatives to assist the person to manage their finances, which would eliminate the need to appoint an administrator. In most cases, family members, friends or neighbours are appointed as administrators.

In situations where there is no-one willing, suitable or available to take on the role of administrator, the Tribunal may appoint the Public Trustee.

Decisions an administrator can make

Once appointed by the State Administrative Tribunal, an administrator has the authority to make legal and financial decisions on behalf of the represented person.

An administrator can be given the authority to make decisions regarding the management of the estate of the represented person, including receipts of income, all expenditure, asset management (including sales and purchases) and debt servicing and repayment.

The Tribunal can limit an administrator's decision-making authority to specific areas such as legal decisions (limited order) or give the administrator the authority to make all legal and financial decisions on behalf of the person (plenary order).

Decisions an administrator cannot make

Regardless of the terms of the order, an administrator cannot:

  • Make, amend or revoke a Will for the represented person without an order from the Supreme Court.
  • Act as an Executor of a Will in place of the represented person, unless approved by the Supreme Court.
  • Delegate his or her authority to another person.

Regardless of the terms of the order, without the written authority of the Tribunal, an administrator cannot:

  • Make gifts from the estate of the represented person - including money, property or possessions.
  • Pay travel expenses of family or friends who visit the represented person.
  • Repay any 'informal' loans to family and/or friends.
  • Make 'testamentary advances' to the beneficiaries of the represented person's Will
  • Claim the cost of time, labour or expertise ('remuneration') for the administration of the represented person's estate.

Administrators' responsibilities

The Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 requires administrators to make decisions in the best interests of the person they represent by:

  • Advocating for the represented person.
  • Encouraging and assisting the person to be involved in the management of their own estate.
  • Encouraging and assisting the person to make decisions about their own life.
  • Protecting the person's estate from neglect, abuse and exploitation.
  • Consulting with the person and taking into account their wishes.
  • Showing respect for and maintaining the cultural, linguistic and religious environment of the represented person.

The management of another person's financial, legal and property affairs comes with a great deal of responsibility. Under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990, administrators are required to be accountable for all decisions, and are required to submit annual accounts to the Public Trustee for auditing.

The Public Trustee will examine the account records and may request more information. Losses to the estate of the represented person may leave an administrator personally liable.

It is recommended that administrators keep records of the decisions they make, including:

  • What the decision was
  • The date when it was made
  • The reason it was required
  • Any persons consulted in the process

Private administrators can get advice and support from the Private Administrator Support Team at the Public Trustee.

More information can be found in the Public Trustee publication Private Administrator's Guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can be appointed an administrator?

To be considered for appointment by the State Administrative Tribunal, a proposed administrator must be:

  • Willing, suitable and available
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Consent to act as administrator
  • Always be prepared to act in the person’s best interests.
  • Encourage the person's independence, decision making and participation in community life
  • Not be in a position where their own interests conflict with the best interests of the represented person.

In situations where no-one is willing, suitable and available to take on the role of administrator, the Tribunal may appoint the Public Trustee.

Which agency is responsible for making an administration order?

The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) is the agency which manages all aspects of making an administration order:

  • Providing and accepting application forms
  • Providing advice about completing the application
  • Holding the hearing
  • Determining if an order should be made and, if so, who should be appointed.

Further information on making an application can be found under, How the SAT handles guardianship and administration matters on the Tribunal's website.

How is an administration order made?

Once an application is accepted, the State Administrative Tribunal holds a hearing at which all interested parties can provide their views on the need for an administration order.  At the hearing, the Tribunal will make a decision about whether to make an order, and, where necessary, who should be appointed. The Tribunal then sends copies of the administration order to all parties involved in the hearing process.

How long does an administration order last?

The State Administrative Tribunal is required to review administration orders at least every five years, but a review may be conducted sooner. The Tribunal makes the decision about the length of the order depending on the circumstances.  It is also possible for a current order to be reviewed at any time if circumstances have changed.

What happens if an administrator can no longer fulfil his or her responsibilities?

An application can be made to the State Administrative Tribunal for a new administrator to be appointed when an appointed administrator is no longer able to fulfil their responsibilities.

Any person who has an interest in the welfare of the person with a decision-making disability can apply for a review of the administration order.

If the issues underlying the original application for administration are resolved and there is no longer a need for an administrator, the Tribunal can revoke the administration order.

If there is still a need for an administrator, the Tribunal will make a new order appointing a different person.

What happens if the administrator is not acting in the person’s best interests?

If someone is concerned that an administrator is not acting in the person's best interests, they may apply to the State Administrative Tribunal and a hearing may be convened. At this hearing the Tribunal will consider the information presented and determine whether to confirm the appointment or whether to revoke the order and appoint a new administrator.

When will a review of an administration order be conducted?

A review will be conducted if the administrator:

  • dies
  • applies to be discharged from their responsibilities
  • is no longer able to fulfil their responsibilities to the person with the decision-making disability because of their own physical or mental incapacity
  • is found to have been guilty of neglect or misconduct which in the Tribunal's view, makes them no longer appropriate to act as administrator
  • becomes bankrupt.

The powers of an administrator cease on the death of the person they represent.

Where can I get more information and support regarding administration matters?

If an administrator is uncertain about what decisions to make in the best interests of the represented person, they may seek professional advice from a lawyer or financial advisor. It is also possible to make an application to the State Administrative Tribunal for directions on what action should be taken.

Administrators can employ, instruct and pay agents (for example, a solicitor, accountant, settlement agent, stockbroker or other person) to make business-related transactions within the management of the person's estate.

For further information regarding administration contact the Telephone Advisory Service on 1300 858 455 or contact the Public Trustee.