Who to appoint?

You can nominate a suitable person or request VCAT to make a determination.

VCAT may appoint a relative, friend, solicitor, accountant, private trustee company or State Trustees Limited as administrator. VCAT’s emphasis is to take the least restrictive path and so they are likely to appoint a family member before a friend or a professional. They will, however, discount a family member where there is a dispute between family members or because no family member is considered suitable.

Note that in some cases a social worker or other health professional may apply for appointment as guardian or administrator where they believe an older person is at risk of abuse. Your client and/or their family may want to challenge this application.

The appointment of an administrator can have the effect of revoking or suspending previous powers of attorney. S. 125G Instruments Act 1958 states that an attorney may exercise powers under an Enduring Power of Attorney only to the extent authorised by VCAT.

You need to ensure attorneys and any other relevant agencies are notified of the appointment of an administrator, otherwise the previous powers may mistakenly continue to the detriment of your client.

Families in conflict

Often families can be in conflict and not agree over issues such as where and how a parent should live and management of their finances. It might be best to refer a client to mediation services – through VCAT, the Dispute Settlement Centre or a private mediation service. (The Office of the Public Advocate can provide advocacy support to the older person in such circumstances.)  Note that the preservation of family relationships may in fact be your client’s first priority and that mediation is said to be appropriate where the parties have a desire to preserve relationships.