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State Administrative Tribunal

Appoint a guardian or administrator

A decision-making disability may affect a person’s ability to make reasonable judgements for themselves and manage various aspects of their lives. To protect the person’s best interests, the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 allows SAT to appoint a guardian and/or administrator as a substitute decision-maker for a person that lacks capacity to make their own decisions due to illness, injury, or disability.

The guardian and/or administrator can make some personal (guardian) and financial (administrator) decisions on behalf of the person with a decision-making disability to not only ensure their quality of life is maintained but to also protect them from the risk of neglect, exploitation, and abuse. However, as an appointment of a guardian and/or administrator involves removing a person’s fundamental decision-making rights, it is a course of action only taken as a last resort after less restrictive measures have been considered and found to be insufficient.

A guardian is appointed by SAT to make personal decisions in the best interests of someone who is not capable of making those decisions for themselves.

The decision-making authority of a guardianship order may be limited to specific areas such as medical and accommodation (limited order) or apply to all areas of the person's life (plenary order).

There are some decisions a guardian cannot make. These include:

  • voting on behalf of the person they represent
  • making a will on behalf of the person they represent
  • giving consent to the marriage of the person they represent or their minor child
  • giving consent to the adoption of a child of the person they represent.

A person nominated as guardian must:

  • be at least 18 years of age
  • consent to act as guardian for the person about whom the application is being made
  • be prepared to act in the person's best interests at all times,
  • not be in a position where their own interests conflict with the best interests of the represented person.

In situations where there is no-one willing, suitable or available to take on the role of guardian, the Public Advocate may be appointed by SAT as Guardian of Last Resort.

An administrator is appointed by SAT to make financial and legal decisions of a financial or estate nature in the best interests of someone not capable of making those decisions for themselves.

An administrator may be given authority to decide specific matters such as the sale of assets, payment of debts or investment of money. Many administrators have broad (plenary) authority and manage all of the person’s estate and financial affairs and pay all the daily bills, purchase all essential items and they must keep detailed accounts.

An administrator must:

  • be an individual of at least 18 years of age or a corporate trustee
  • consent to act as administrator for the person about whom the application is being made,
  • be prepared to act in the person's best interests at all times;
  • be prepared to report to the Public Trustee.

SAT can appoint the Public Trustee as administrator of a represented person's financial affairs if there is no one else suitable and willing to take on the role.

Purchasing Gifts: If an administrator wants to make a gift (such as birthdays or Christmas) from a person’s estate they need authority from the Tribunal to do so. It's important to notify the Tribunal either in writing before the hearing or at the hearing if gifting is required.

For more information about gifting please go the Office of the Public Advocate’s website and read "Information Sheet 5: Administration".

A plenary appointment allows a guardian or administrator to make all the decisions and perform all the functions that the represented person could themselves if they did not have a disability.

A limited appointment allows a guardian or administrator to make only the decisions or perform only the functions specified in the order.

A plenary guardian will not be appointed if a limited guardian would be sufficient to meet the person's needs.

Useful Resources

Office of the Public Advocate

Public Trustee


Last updated: 2 June 2022

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