What is an Administrator?
Administrators are like guardians, except they are limited to managing the financial affairs of a person with a disability. They must be suitable and willing. The same requirements apply for an administrator and a guardian:
The proposed administrator must:
- be at least 18 years of age
- be prepared to act in the represented person’s best interests
- not be in a position where their own interests conflict with the best interests of the represented person
Administrators must also have sufficient expertise to administer an estate. The Board takes into account the compatibility of the administrator and the proposed represented person.
- must be responsible for the general care and management of the estate and financial affairs of the represented person
- must take possession of, collect and generally administer the estate of the represented person in a sensible manner
- may be authorised to do anything in relation to the financial affairs of the represented person that he or she would have been able to do if they did not have a disability
Administrators have a heavy duty on them. They are expected to:
- prepare a plan of management of the represented person’s estate
- use the represented person’s money to maximise the quality of life for that person
- keep a complete record of income and expenses and of any significant dealings with the estate
- provide an annual report and statement of accounts to the Board
- seek advice and direction from the Board where appropriate
Administrators cannot act against the best interests of the represented person, nor can they use funds from the estate for their own use or benefit, or for the use or benefit of anyone except the represented person. Administrators receive support, help and resources from the Board.
Choosing an Administrator
Administrators are appointed by the Guardianship and Administration Board. An administrator may be an individual, such as a relative, friend, solicitor or accountant, or an organisation, such as the Public Trustee or a private trustee company.
The Board prefers to appoint an administrator who is:
- familiar with the represented person’s values and beliefs, likes and dislikes; and
- competent to manage the represented person’s financial affairs.
The Board will also consider the wishes of the represented person and the compatibility of the proposed administrator with the represented person and their guardian if any.
When will an Administrator be appointed?
The Board will only appoint an administrator when:
- the person has a disability;
- the person cannot make reasonable decisions about financial and property matters because of that disability; and
- decisions need to be made and there is not a less restrictive way of making these decisions.
Principles of Administration
In addition to the principle of ‘least restrictive alternative’ the Board takes into account the following principles:
- that the best interests of the person are promoted;
- that the wishes of the proposed represented person are, if possible, carried out.
Powers of an Administrator
The powers given to an administrator depend on the order made by the Board. Potentially, an administrator has wide powers to deal with the represented person’s property and finances including the power to sell property, invest in property, lease property, settle debts and so on. The Board may, however, limit the general powers of an administrator and direct that the represented person continues to be responsible for a particular part of their property, e.g. operate a savings account.
Emergency Administration Orders
There is provision under the Guardianship and Administration Act for the Board to make an emergency administration order without a formal hearing and over the telephone if necessary. Pursuant to an emergency administration order, the Public Trustee is appointed as the person’s administrator and the order is effective for a period of 28 days although it can be renewed for a similar period.
Duration of Administration Orders
Administration orders are normally for a three year period. At the expiration of that period the order will lapse unless renewed after a review hearing.
There are a number of safeguards built into the legislation to help to ensure that administrators act in the best interests of the represented person:
- private administrators must, when requested, provide the Board with a statement of the accounts of the represented person’s estate — this must be in an approved form, signed and verified by statutory declaration and is subject to audit by the Public Trustee;
- if, after an audit, the Board is satisfied that in relation to any expenditure the administrator has not acted in good faith or with reasonable care it may disallow the expenditure — the administrator will be personally liable to the represented person for any expenditure disallowed by the Board;
- any person who believes that an administrator is not acting in the best interest of the represented person can apply to the Board for a review.
Administrators can ask the Board for advice at any time.