Trust Management: Public Trustee

A trust is a legal arrangement in which money or property is managed by one person or organisation (the Trustee) for the benefit of another (the Beneficiary).

Trusts are generally established by a Will, Court Order or a deed that sets out the terms of the trust such as who can receive benefits from the trust, what assets form the trust, and when beneficiaries can start receiving benefits from the trust.

People often establish trusts to protect assets in the future or provide ongoing financial security for family, dependants, charities or causes. People can also start a trust for their favourite charity or cause, such as the Give2Good Foundation.

Appointment of the Public Trustee

The Public Trustee offers professional trustee services and can be appointed as trustee:

  • of a Court trust - where the Public Trustee manages the funds in the best interests of the beneficiary and in keeping with the law.  Such payments may be made, for example, after a personal injury or criminal injuries compensation claim.
  • of a compensation trust - where a Court appoints the Public Trustee under a Court Order or from settlement for funds awarded for personal injury and compensation. Often, a trust needs to hold these funds for a person who was injured.
  • through a Will - where the Public Trustee is named as trustee for a testamentary trust, which is a trust set up in your Will to hold assets/funds for distribution at a time after your death (according to your instructions). Anyone can nominate the Public Trustee as trustee of a testamentary trust.
  • through a trust deed  - where the deed sets out the conditions, terms and rules for creating and managing the trust. Anyone can nominate the Public Trustee as trustee in a trust deed.

If you would like further information about establishing your own trust, please contact our Customer Service Team on public.trustee@justice.wa.gov.au or 1300 746 212. 

Why Choose the Public Trustee?

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The Public Trustee has provided reliable, efficient, independent and professional trustee management services since 1941.

We have extensive experience, and manage thousands of trusts including some of the largest court awards, and most difficult or contentious cases.

We understand our responsibilities go far beyond investing your money and we strive to balance the need to invest and grow funds, with supporting you to access your money to improve your quality of life. Our staff are caring, professional and genuinely act in our client's best interests. As a Statutory Authority, the Public Trustee isn’t subject to the risks of closure, takeovers, mergers or death, which ensures the continuity of our services.

All trustees are accountable to the Supreme Court and may also have to apply to the Court for approval to perform certain duties. In addition, trustees are held accountable to the Court, Tribunal or Assessor that appointed them.

The Public Trustee's operations are also subject to the scrutiny of the Auditor General of Western Australia, as well as the Ombudsman of Western Australia who has the power to investigate certain matters and report adverse findings to the Parliament of Western Australia.

If you would like further information about establishing your own trust, please contact our Customer Service Team on public.trustee@justice.wa.gov.au or 1300 746 212. 

Represented Persons and the State Administrative Tribunal

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Represented Persons

Some people are unable to make sensible and reasoned decisions about how to manage their finances.  This could be due to drug or alcohol addiction, dementia, intellectual disability, an acquired brain injury or a psychiatric illness.

Without help, these people are at risk and can end up making poor decisions, which results in substantial financial loss, neglect, and abuse or financial exploitation.

Where a person is at risk, an application can be made to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), for the appointment of an administrator (or financial manager) for a person (known as a Represented Person).

The Public Trustee is usually appointed administrator when there is no-one willing or able to take on the responsibility, or where there is evidence of financial abuse or family disagreements.  

To find out more about applying for an administration order, please visit the State Administrative Tribunal. 

How does the Public Trustee assist a Represented Person?

When appointed, the Public Trustee is responsible for managing the Represented Person's assets and finances and making all financial and legal decisions in the best interests of the Represented Person.

The Public Trustee:

  • receives all income and benefits to which the person is entitled;
  • pays all accounts for which the person is liable (including accommodation, rates, utilities, chemist etc);
  • provides funds for spending on groceries, personal needs and the comforts of life; 
  • manages investments;
  • lodges tax returns;
  • organises the sale or purchase of property;
  • pays residential accommodation bonds (where applicable); and
  • may ensure the continuation of an existing business. 

The Public Trustee may consult with the Represented Person, their family or support agencies when making decisions about expenditure, investments and finances, and considers the person's financial resources, lifestyle, obligations and any commitments made prior to their incapacity, including any intentions expressed in their Will.

Fees and Charges

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Our fees and charges are reviewed annually and are subject to the scrutiny of the Parliament of Western Australia. The fees are set out in the Public Trustee's Scale of Fees.

Announcements

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Incorrectly storing your Will can be a grave mistake

There's no point in investing time and money writing your Will if it can't be found after you die. Learn more about the The WA Will Bank, a free Will storage service for all Western Australians thanks to the Public Trustee.
Page reviewed 15 October 2020