Guardianship and administration
If an adult is not able to make sensible decisions about their finances or lifestyle, or doing things that are not in their best interests, it may be possible for the State Administrative Tribunal (the SAT) to appoint a guardian or administrator (or both) to make decisions for them.
- A guardian makes decisions about a person's lifestyle and legal affairs, such as where they should live and who they should live with, what work or education they should be involved in, who they spend time or communicate with, and what medical treatment they should receive.
- An administrator makes decisions about a person's finances and property.
Quick Answers Videos: Guardianship and Administration
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- who can apply to the SAT
- what the SAT considers before appointing a guardian or an administrator
- what the Public Advocate and Public Trustee can do.
Who can apply to the SAT for a guardian or administrator to be appointed?
Guardians and administrators must make decisions that are in the person's best interests.
If you are worried that a family member or friend is unable to make decisions that are in their best interests, you may need to ask the SAT to appoint a guardian or administrator (or both) for them.
There are no restrictions on who can apply to the SAT and ask for a guardian or administrator (or both) to be appointed for someone else. Normally, the application will be made by someone who is worried that the other person is not able to look after themselves (such as a family member, friend, social worker or doctor).
The person who makes the application does not need to be the proposed guardian or proposed administrator.
When will the SAT appoint a guardian or administrator?
The SAT can appoint a guardian (or joint guardians) to make decisions in the best interests of an adult if the person:
- is incapable of looking after their own health and safety
- is unable to make reasonable judgments in respect of personal matters, or
needs oversight, care or control in the interests of their own health and safety, or for the protection of others,
and is in need of a guardian.
The SAT can appoint an administrator (or joint administrators) to make decisions in the best interests of an adult if the person:
- is unable, because of a mental disability, to make reasonable judgments in respect of matters relating to all or any part of their estate, and
- needs an administrator of their estate.
The term 'mental disability' includes an intellectual disability, a psychiatric condition, an acquired brain injury and dementia.
The SAT will only appoint a guardian or administrator if one is needed. It must first consider if there are any other suitable options that would have less impact or restriction on the person and their ability to make their own decisions.
The SAT can put limits on what kinds of decisions the guardian or administrator can make for the person (for example, if the represented person can still make reasonable decisions about some topics, but not others).
Who are the Public Advocate and the Public Trustee?
The Public Advocate is an independent statutory officer created under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 (WA) to promote and protect the rights of adults with decision-making disabilities. The Office of the Public Advocate can provide information and advice about guardianship and administration, as well as enduring powers of administration and guardianship.
The SAT often asks the Office of the Public Advocate to prepare a report about whether a guardian or administrator is required and make recommendations about who should be appointed. If no other person is suitable to be appointed as a guardian, the SAT can ask the Public Advocate to take on that role.
The Public Trustee is an independent statutory officer created under WA legislation. The Public Trustee offers independent professional trustee and asset management services to the WA community. These include drafting wills and enduring power of attorneys, administering deceased estates, supporting executors, conducting financial administration and providing trust management services.
The Public Trustee supports administrators appointed by the SAT, and examines their accounts and record-keeping. If no other person is suitable to be appointed as an administrator, the SAT can ask the Public Trustee to take on that role.
Our Civil Law Division may be able to help you if you have current proceedings in the State Administrative Tribunal, or if you are involved in a dispute with the Public Trustee about money.
If you have a decision-making disability our Elder Rights WA service may be able to help you.
Call the Infoline on 1300 650 579 to find out what help we can give in your situation.
eCourts Portal of Western Australia (under the heading State Administrative Tribunal). On this site you can make an online application with the Tribunal.
Public Trustee - On this website there is information and publications that may help you.
Public Trustee - Private Administrator support – 1300 746 116 (new inquiries and appointments)
- State Administrative Tribunal - Guardianship and Administration - (08) 9219 3111 or 1300 306 017. On the website there is an Info Sheet - Guide for Guardianship and Administration Proceedings
Office of the Public Advocate - 1300 858 455
Includes information on who can be appointed as a guardian, their role, what happens in the SAT, and what the guardian can and cannot do.
Includes information on who can be appointed as an administrator, their role, and what they can and cannot do.
Reviewed: 11 October 2022