Does Australia Have Conservatorship Laws?

There has been a lot of news lately emerging from America about conservatorships and managing finances for those incapable of doing so. It may have caused you to question if conservatorships exist in Australia or if there is an equivalent.

Australia doesn’t have “conservatorships” in the sense that America has, but instead has guardianship and financial management laws for each state and territory.

Australia has three primary legal options for appointing other people to manage your money and affairs.

  1. The Supreme Court
  2. State-based mental health laws for temporary financial management (where an individual is detained in a mental health facility)
  3. State-based guardianship tribunals (which differ from state to state).

In most cases, financial management and guardianship laws relate to people who have been deemed incapable of managing their affairs or are considered needing a financial manager or guardian because of a disability.

Financial managers (sometimes called “administrators”) take care of the money side of things while a personal guardian makes decisions around their health and lifestyle.

To have a financial manager or guardian appointed, a person must apply to the court or a guardianship tribunal. The applicant might be a government employee, a family member, a service provider or a medical professional who forms the view the individual in question can’t make their own decisions.

When someone applies to a tribunal to have a financial manager appointed, the tribunal will consider factors such as

  • how capable the person with a disability is and what might in in their best interests
  • what family support they have around them
  • what might occur if a financial manager was not appointed.

In Australia, it has become a growing trend for those who have been diagnosed and are living with dementia to appoint financial managers. This may be to prevent financial abuse, or it could be a form of financial abuse itself.

Another rise has resulted from those who are participants in the NDIS to require financial managers and guardians appointed when their affairs had previously been informally managed by friends or family.

Implementing a financial manager should be done so with the assistance of legal professionals, such as a solicitor or adviser.