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Having someone act on your behalf

Last Updated at April 22nd 2022
A lot of different bills and responsibilities can arise in your older age. When you have Centrelink to deal with, aged care costs to pay, and a variety of bills coming in, it is understandable that you may want some assistance with your personal and financial affairs.

Key points:

  • You can nominate a person to deal with Government departments and financial groups on your behalf
  • You can change or remove a representative you appoint at any time
  • If you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself, then your Enduring Power of Attorney or Enduring Guardian will step in to manage your affairs
Older lady getting help from daughter
Your representative should be a trusted person, like a partner, an immediate family member, a close friend, or a carer. [Source: Shutterstock]

Representatives can be appointed on a range of different organisations and accounts, and have specific powers to act on your behalf and make decisions for you.

For example, you canappoint a representative for your My Aged Care account to make decisions and manage your aged care services.

In most circumstances, you can stipulate how much power your representative has over your affairs.

Your representative should be a trusted person, like a partner, an immediate family member, a close friend, or a carer.

When managing your affairs, your representative should always be including you in the decision making process and are not meant to share any of your personal information without your consent.

So what services can you put representatives in place for?

Services Australia

Services Australia is an important Government agency that delivers social, health and support services to everyday Australians.

Older people tend to have a lot of interaction with Services Australia, as it includes Centrelink, provides the Age Pension, a number of other pensions and benefits, information and management of Government aged care, and Medicare information and services.

You can nominate a representative to deal with Centrelink directly for you, and you can decide on how much involvement they have in your personal affairs.

There are five types of representatives you can appoint for your Centrelink, including:

  • A nominee: provides a person with the right to correspond with Centrelink on your behalf or to assist with payments. You can appoint two representatives for this role, one that handles your correspondence with Centrelink and another to deal with your payments, or just have one person to manage both of these areas
    • A correspondence nominee can enquire about Centrelink payments and services, update Centrelink on changes in your life, respond to information requests and update your financial information, accompany you to appointments, sign forms on your behalf, and claim your payments and services
    • A payment nominee manages your Centrelink payments, makes sure your payments benefit you, and keep accurate records of how your Centrelink funds are being spent
  • Person that has permission to enquire: This is someone who has the authority to contact Centrelink to ask about your payments and services. For instance, this person can ask Centrelink about the rate of your payments and aged care costs, enquire into why any payments have stopped and what needs to be fixed, and any changes that may have happened to your Centrelink or aged care payments
  • Person permitted to update: This person can do the same as a person that has permission to enquire, with the added ability to notify Centrelink about changes in your personal life and circumstances
  • Group payment arrangement: This is for an organisation, like a hospital or aged care facility, that has permission to get your Centrelink payments for you. They receive your Centrelink money, can deduct any aged care fees (with permission), and transfer the remaining balance to you
  • Person that has permission to enquire about Status Resolution Support Services payment (SRSS): A person who can enquire about your SRSS payment, a regular payment you receive for cost of living if you are still waiting for a decision on your immigration status

Since these arrangements are voluntary, you are able to cancel your nominees at any time by contacting Centrelink.

Alternatively, if you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself, your Enduring Power of Attorney will be able to manage your Services Australia services on your behalf.

Since Medicare is a part of Services Australia, you can also have a representative put in place for Medicare related purposes if you are unable to manage medicare services or you need assistance.

These representatives can help with enquiring about costs and Medicare information, finding Medicare subsidised services, claiming costs, services or medication, or corresponding on your behalf with Medicare.

They can either be a Power of Attorney, a court appointed Guardian or Administrator, accepted by Medicare as a representative or an authorised third party to be allowed to be a representative for Medicare purposes.

Department of Veterans' Affairs

If you receive social support payments through the Department of Veterans' Affairs, you can appoint someone as a nominee for aged care related requests.

A nominee for the Department of Veterans' Affairs can deal with the department on your behalf and manage the costs of a Home Care Package or residential aged care.

This can include signing any forms for aged care services, enquiring about the cost of aged care, keeping your financial information up to date, and receiving aged care correspondence.

My Health Record

If you have a My Health Record, a Government initiative to keep your health information all in one place, you can nominate someone to view or manage your health record on your behalf.

There are two types of representatives that can be appointed:

  • A nominated representative is a trusted person that has access to your My Health Record. You can invite them to access your record and can set different levels of access. General access allows the person to view all documents unless they are restricted documents; restricted access allows a person to view all documents; and full access allows a nominated person to view all of your documents and update and add information
  • An authorised representative is only appointed if you are unable to make decisions for yourself, such as an Enduring Power of Attorney. This person is able to view your information, remove and add to your record, decide what Medicare data is recorded, give authority to healthcare providers to access your information, manage nominated representatives and view authorised representatives, and can delete the account

Your representatives on your My Health Record should follow your current will and preferences and include you in decisions where possible.

Representatives on financial accounts

If you feel like you can no longer manage your personal or financial accounts or you find it provides you too much stress, most financial institutions and organisations will allow you to appoint a representative on your account who will make decisions on your behalf and ensure payments.

For instance, you can appoint a person to manage your internet or phone bill on your behalf.

Similarly, banks will allow an authorised representative to manage, access and coordinate your financial affairs.

You should only nominate a trusted person in these roles. This could be a partner, a close family member, or a carer.

If you actively nominate a person to represent you, then you can also make changes or remove this representative at any time.

However, if you no longer have the capacity to make financial decisions, your Enduring Power of Attorney will be able to access and manage all of these accounts for you.

You should contact businesses about what their policies are regarding appointing representatives to your accounts.

Ongoing representative documents

Representatives are usually for once off scenarios and for short and long term periods, however, if you want more permanent and longer term options, you may benefit from important estate planning documents.

Longer term representatives are people nominated on your important documents, like Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Attorney, Enduring Guardian, and a substitute decision maker in your Advance Care Directive (ACD).

  • A Power of Attorney is given permission to make decisions and act on your behalf
  • An Enduring Power of Attorney only comes into effect when you no longer are able to make decisions for yourself and usually only deals with your financial affairs
  • An Enduring Guardian only comes into effect when you no longer are able to make decisions for yourself and can only make lifestyle, and sometimes health, decisions
  • A substitute decision maker is usually appointed in an ACD and steps in when you can no longer make decisions for yourself around your medical care or treatment. This decision maker should be following your wishes in your ACD

The rules around these representatives and important documents can differ from State to Territory, so make sure to check with the relevant Government body.

Are you intending to get assistance with managing your personal affairs? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Appointing a My Aged Care representative to act on your behalf
Creating a strong estate plan
Organising legal matters when living with dementia

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