Sometimes we receive applications from third parties on behalf of our customers requesting information about the work we are doing with those customers.
We generally only have a legal obligation to release information to these third parties if we are ordered to by a court.
The following explains our responsibilities when sharing certain types of information.
We only release information about a Will held at the Public Trustee where the person who made the Will is still living and has given written consent for the release of that information.
This consent must include a date of birth and an original signature that will need to be verified against the signature on the Will.
In certain circumstances we may request that a doctor certify that the customer who holds the Will with us has the legal capacity to give consent for the release of this information.
If a person has been appointed an administrator under an Administration Order from SACAT, they are entitled to request a copy of the protected person’s Will.
A person who has been assigned as an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), who is acting for a customer who has been assessed as having lost their mental capacity and has a Will at the Public Trustee, can request a copy of the customer’s Will. In these cases, medical evidence that the customer has lost their mental capacity will be required.
Customers who have an EPA in place and still have the mental capacity to do so, can request in writing that we send a copy of their EPA to an interested third party (such as a doctor, family member or social worker). The request must include the customer’s date of birth and their original signature.
Medical evidence that the person still has the mental capacity to make the request may be required.
The Public Trustee manages the estate of deceased persons when they have either:
- requested it in their Will
- died without a Will (through the law of intestacy).
We sometimes receive requests for information about deceased estates.
We are only able to release information about a deceased estate to the beneficiaries of that estate, or to a solicitor who either acts on behalf of a beneficiary or other interested party of the estate.
We may be able to release information about the estate to other third parties, but we will need the written consent of the beneficiaries of the customer’s Will.
Certain people have a key role in helping us manage our customer’s financial and legal affairs and are able to access the customer’s personal information.
These people have most likely been appointed through a Court Protection Order or SACAT Administration Order to help us manage a protected person’s affairs.
Persons named in SACAT orders
SACAT frequently names a person in the Administration Order to communicate with the Public Trustee to make sure the needs of a protected person are met.
This is a specific role to make sure the protected person receives everything they need for their proper care and protection.
To successfully fulfil their role, this person may require information and documentation about the protected person from us, and we are required to provide that information.
Receivers of financial information
SACAT Administration Orders sometimes appoint one or more people as receivers of financial information in relation to a protected person.
Receivers of financial information are generally provided with statements about the protected person’s financial affairs each quarter.
We are able to discuss this with receivers of financial information, and they are also able to exchange information and documents with us.
The Public Trustee reserves the right to decide whether it is necessary and appropriate to release information regarding the affairs of a protected person.
Unless family members are appointed as a person to communicate with the Public Trustee – or as receivers of financial information – we are generally unable to provide information or documents.
This is especially the case if there is family conflict, which may include allegations of misappropriation of the protected person’s funds.
Family members can provide us with information that might help in managing the protected person’s financial affairs, and we will ensure this information is recorded appropriately.
We will not provide information to one family member that has been provided to us by another family member unless it is with their consent.
We will not disclose information to third parties about a customer’s financial, personal and legal affairs unless it is required under legislation or aligns with the Government’s Information Privacy Principles.
For example – if a solicitor is appointed to act on behalf of a protected person, they will require appropriate information so they can fulfill their role.
No information will be provided by the Public Trustee to a contractor or provider. This is the case even when we have engaged a contractor or purchased goods on behalf of a customer.
The only exception is information that is essential – for example, a tradesperson needs to know the address to complete a job.
We have a number of information sharing protocols with other support agencies across government that allow for the transfer of information about our customers. For example – we will share information to minimise the risk of harm to an individual.
If a request is received from one of these organisations about a mutual customer, we consider it on a case by case basis.
The Public Trustee is required to cooperate with any requests from the State or Federal Police for information about customers.