If you have been appointed by the Court as a Property Manager for someone unable to look after themselves, and are required to make decisions regarding their property, there are several responsibilities you need to be aware of. 

If these things are not followed, you may find yourself in a position where you are fined by the Court, or you could run the risk of being removed as the Property Manager. 

The first thing you need to remember is that you are appointed as a Property Manager in the interests of the person whose property you are managing.  You must preserve and manage their property for their sole benefit.  In some cases you can receive compensation for your own personal expenses that you have incurred when acting for their benefit. 

You also have a duty to consult with the person you are representing, wherever this is possible.  The Court makes these Orders when somebody no longer has the capacity to make and foresee the consequences of their own decisions, so the Court requires consultation between the Property Manager and the person they are assisting, where it is possible and appropriate to do so.

If there is a different person who holds the Power of Attorney for health and welfare, then you need to consult with them, particularly regarding the payment of health-related expenses.

Once you have become a Property Manager, within three months of the date of the Order being made, you are required to file a statement of the assets and liabilities of the person you are representing. 

An annual statement has to be filed within thirty days of the end of each year that the Order has been in place.  This annual statement needs to outline the changes to the assets and liabilities for that year.

You also need to file a further statement within 30 days after you stop your role as a property manager.

If you fail to file a statement you can be fined up to $1,000.00 per statement.  If you mislead the Court as to any information provided in that statement, you can face a maximum term of imprisonment of up to three years. 

You only risk imprisonment if you file statements that you know to be untrue.  The forms for these statements are available on the Ministry of Justice website. 

In most cases, you will need to apply for a review of a Property Manager’s Order within three years from the date that the Order was originally made.  If you do not apply for a review then you will have to start the process again and apply for fresh Property Orders in the Family Court.

Finally, when dealing with somebody’s property there are some restrictions as to what you can purchase or sell on behalf of the person.  You need the express consent of the Court to do any of the following. 

  • Give gifts of over $5,000 in any year.
  • Purchase a home for more than $120,000.
  • Improve or develop a property at a cost of more than $120,000. 
  • Sell or exchange land valued at more than $120,000. 
  • Enter a lease for more than ten years.

In many cases where the person’s home needs to be sold to pay for their expenses, such as for residential care, you will need to ask the Court’s permission before you can sell the home, provided it is valued higher than $120,000.  If the property is valued at more than that, you must apply to the Court to increase the sum from $120,000.

If you wish to learn more about the responsibilities of Property Managers, it is always best to consult with an experienced Family lawyer who practises in this area.

Shaun Cousins
Family Lawyer