The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) is a federal agency that provides benefits and services to Veterans, their families, and survivors. VA is responsible for administering the DVA pension program, health care system, and other benefits. VA also manages individualized education programs for Veterans and their families.
A fiduciary is appointed if the Veteran cannot handle their affairs themselves. The fiduciary is responsible for managing the Veteran's finances and making sure that their medical needs are taken care of. If the Veteran cannot make decisions for themselves, the fiduciary will make decisions on their behalf. This can be a difficult responsibility, but it is important that the Veteran's needs are taken care of.
To fulfill their fiduciary role, VA fiduciaries must understand federal and state laws governing Veterans benefits programs.
What Are the Responsibilities of a VA Fiduciary?
A VA fiduciary is responsible for managing the financial affairs of a Veteran who is unable to do so themselves. This includes paying bills, managing investments, and making sure the Veteran's assets are protected. The fiduciary is also responsible for keeping accurate records of all funds the fiduciary receives from the VA on the beneficiary's behalf. All transactions about finances should be communicated with the Veteran.
What Is the Remuneration for a VA Fiduciary?
The fiduciary may charge a fee of up to 4% of the VA benefits paid to the Veteran.
Who Can Be a VA Fiduciary?
The fiduciary can be a friend, family member, or another interested party, but must be approved by the VA. Often, the fiduciary is a family member or trusted friend, or in some cases, a professional fiduciary.
Can Every Veteran Get a VA Fiduciary?
To be appointed a fiduciary by the VA, the Veteran must first meet certain eligibility requirements. First and foremost, the Veteran must be determined to be incompetent by the VA. This evaluation is made by a team of professionals who review the Veteran's medical and financial information. If it is determined that the Veteran is deemed incompetent to manage their own financial affairs, then they may be appointed a fiduciary.
If Veterans show themselves to be incapable of managing their own financial affairs, such as being unwilling or unable to pay their bills, including legal bills, they may end up losing control of their own money, and having a fiduciary manage the money instead.
In the Event That a Veteran Is Found To Be Incompetent, What Will Happen to Their Benefits?
This issue frequently arises in the areas of retroactive benefits. But there are cases where a veteran is also unable to manage his monthly benefits as well. Military Veterans who are thought to be incompetent will have their retroactive benefits withheld until a resolution is reached. However, the Veteran will continue to receive the monthly compensation based on his or her existing disability ratings.
When a fiduciary has been appointed, the benefits will be issued via the fiduciary. If the incompetency problem is proven incorrect by a medical practitioner, the benefits will be released to the Veteran.
How Is a VA Fiduciary Appointed?
The VA field interview for appointing a fiduciary is an important step in ensuring that a qualified individual is selected to manage the financial affairs of a Veteran who cannot do so themselves. The interview allows VA staff to collect information about the potential fiduciary and their ability to manage the Veteran's finances. This information is used to decide who is best suited to serve as a fiduciary for the Veteran. The selected fiduciary is then given some training to help them best serve the Veterans’ needs.
Can an Attorney Guide You Through the VA Fiduciary Appointment Process?
Using an attorney can provide some benefits during the fiduciary appointment process through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has a specific process that must be followed to have a fiduciary appointed, and an attorney may be familiar with this process and can help ensure that all required steps are taken. An attorney may also be able to represent the Veteran during any hearings that may be necessary. In other cases, the attorney may know how deficient a Veteran is in managing his own financial affairs, such as the failure or inability to pay bills, including legal bills.
What if You Do Not Want a Fiduciary?
If a Veteran is forced to have a fiduciary, it is natural that they may not want to be subjected to this need. So, what can be done?
If the Veteran can show that a doctor has concluded that they are now capable of handling their own assets, the necessity for a fiduciary can be reversed. If it was a court ruling that had determined that a Veteran was unable to handle their own assets, then the Veteran will need to get a new court order stating that the Veteran is now capable of managing their own funds.
To avoid a VA fiduciary managing a Veteran’s money when it is not wanted, the Veteran must be careful to at all times demonstrate capability, such as paying all bills on time, including paying their own lawyer, and avoiding the types of red flags that could prompt the VA fiduciary process.