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Factsheet LEG01(a) - Arrangements for Other People to Act on Your Behalf

Purpose

This Factsheet provides information on arrangements that can be made for another person ("third party") to be appointed to act on a client's behalf in dealing with DVA. A person appointed on this basis alone does not receive the client's pension, allowance and other payments on behalf of a client.

How can a third party be appointed to act on a client's behalf in dealings with DVA?

The laws of the States and Territories provide a number of ways by which a person can appoint a third party to act on their behalf. The most commonly used methods are:

  • the appointment of a person to act for the client in accordance with a power of attorney document
  • the appointment of a guardian or administrator under State or Territory law; and
  • the appointment of a person to seek and provide information on the client's behalf with the written consent of the client.

What is a 'power of attorney'?

A power of attorney is a document made under State or Territory law giving a person nominated by a client, the power to act on their behalf and deal with their assets, financial and/or medical affairs while the client is still living. The appointed person may include a relative, a friend, a private or public trustee, a solicitor or an accountant. It should be someone the client considers he or she can trust.

The client granting the power of attorney is able to determine what the person nominated to act on his or her behalf may do in his or her name.

The power of attorney must be signed while the client is still capable to do so (i.e. does not have a physical or mental disability that imapres their ability to make the nomination).

There are different types of powers  of attorney:

  • General Power of Attorney - This is the basic power of attorney that ceases once the person loses his or her legal capacity to make decisions and can be revoked at any time. It is often used for a specific purpose such as when a person is travelling overseas and needs matters handled in their absence.
  • Enduring Power of Attorney - An enduring power of attorney comes into effect from a date specified on the document and continues in effect even if the person loses the capacity to make decisions. It is possible to create an enduring power of attorney that will only come into effect once it is established that the person no longer has the capacity to make decisions. An enduring power of attorney can be revoked at any time prior to the person losing the capacity to make decisions.

The power of attorney ceases when the person who granted the power dies. On the death of the person, their Will is the legal document that sets out management or disposal of their property.

Why have a power of attorney?

Having both a current Will and power of attorney are important when planning ahead. This is particularly useful in a range of situations where a person may not be able to readily manage his or her financial affairs. Examples are if the person is planning to travel overseas or is in failing health. A power of attorney enables a trusted person to attend to essential matters at the right time.

While a power of attorney document may authorise the appointed person to discuss  matters with DVA, the obligation to inform DVA of changes to their circumstances, remains with the client. The appointed person may assist the client to comply by notifying DVA of any changes on his or her behalf.

How to create a power of attorney?

A solicitor, private trustee company, the Public Trustee (or equivalent) in the person's State or Territory, or other relevant qualified professional can provide advice about creating a power of attorney, how it works and the appointed person's responsibilities and how to revoke the power of attorney. Information is also available on State and Territory Government websites.

It is important for a client to notify DVA when they appoint a person under a power of attorney if they are seeking to authorise the third party to deal with DVA on their behalf. The client should provide DVA with a certified copy of the power of attorney document. The client should also notify DVA of any changes to the details of the power of attorney. This will ensure that DVA contacts and deals with the appropriate person in matters related to the client's pension, veteran payment, allowances and concessions.

The appointment of a person under a power of attorney will not in itself allow that person to receive payments of pension or allowances of the pensioner's behalf. For further information, see Factsheet LEG01(b) Arrangements for Other People to Receive Payments on Your Behalf.

What is guardianship and administration?

If a person loses the capacity to make decisions for himself or herself and does not have an enduring power of attorney arrangement, other methods of appointing someone to manage his or her affairs will be required. This is usually through the appointment of a guardian or administrator under State or Territory law.

It is important to note that where a guardian or administrator has been appointed under State or Territory law that will not of itself allow that person to receive payments of pension, veteran payment or allowances on the client's behalf. For further information, see Factsheet LEG01(b) Arrangements for Other People to Receive Payments on Your Behalf.

What if I simply provide my written consent for another person to act on my behalf?

A further way that a client can appoint another person to act on their behalf in dealing with DVA is by providing DVA with written consent to allow the person to seek and provide information concerning the client. For example, if a client wished to permit another person to deal with DVA over the telephone on their behalf, the client could provide written consent to DVA to allow this. A client who nominates a person to provide information to DVA in this way will ultimately still be responsible for ensuring the required information is provided.

The scope of this kind of arrangement is more limited than a power of attorney arrangement, and appointment of a power of attorney will usually be the most appropriate way for a client to appoint another person to act on their behalf. Again, the appointment of a person to seek and provide information from DVA through the written consent of the client will not in itself allow that person to receive payments of pension, veteran payment or allowances on the client's behalf.

Disclaimer

The information contained in this Factsheet is general in nature and does not take into account individual circumstances. You should not make important decisions, such as those that affect your financial or lifestyle position on the basis of information contained in this Factsheet. Where you are required to lodge a written claim for a benefit, you must take full responsibility for your decisions prior to the written claim being determined. You should seek confirmation in writing of any oral advice you receive from DVA.

Related Factsheets

More Information

DVA General Enquiries

Phone: 1800 555 254 *

Email: GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au

DVA Website: www.dva.gov.au

Factsheet Website: www.dva.gov.au/factsheets

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.

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9 May 2018