Should I Get a VA Fiduciary?

Learn what a VA fiduciary is, how to become one, and how fiduciaries can help veterans with financial security.

close up of money manager's hands writing files

What Is a Fiduciary?

A fiduciary manages the monetary benefits of another person. The person receiving financial benefits is a beneficiary. For a veteran beneficiary, this can encompass the management of their VA benefits as well as other income they collect. The veteran can choose someone they’d like to manage their accounts, or the VA will appoint a fiduciary to step in and handle such affairs.

close up on the hands of a fiduciary money manager working with a client

Situations that may affect a veteran’s ability to manage their financial assets might involve injury, disease, or age. The VA will only appoint a fiduciary after the appropriate medical documentation or court jurisdiction has been delivered to them.

How a VA Fiduciary Can Help a Veteran

A VA fiduciary handles a lot of essential duties when a veteran is unable to. It’s the fiduciary’s job to ensure the veteran is taken care of monetarily and that no one attempts to take advantage of their condition.

VA Fiduciary Responsibilities

The person selected is responsible for managing a veteran’s income while making sure their bills, debts, and other financial requirements are taken care of promptly. Specifically, potential responsibilities might include:

  • Allocating funds for daily expenses like food, clothing, housing, medical, and personal items
  • Keeping the VA up-to-date on the following changes:
    • Address and phone number
    • Income
    • Dependents
    • Incarceration
    • Hospitalization in a VA treatment facility
    • Death of the beneficiary or one of their dependents
    • If the fiduciary decides to sell or transfer their business or quit
    • Any changes in the veteran’s need for a fiduciary (for instance, if the veteran is in better health and ability to manage their funds again)
  • Maintaining accurate and complete records/receipts while submitting periodic accountings when necessary
  • Ensuring excess funds go into a state insured bank account or U.S. savings bonds
  • Returning any owed funds in the case that:
    • You stop serving as a fiduciary
    • The veteran doesn’t need the money anymore
  • Protecting the veteran’s beneficiary funds from creditors, as these specific funds are protected by law

Depending on the relationship between beneficiary and fiduciary, more or fewer responsibilities may be established.

Can I Apply to Be a Veteran’s Fiduciary Through the VA?

There are specific qualifications an individual must meet before they are approved by the VA to be the fiduciary. After the appropriate medical and legal documentation is submitted on behalf of the veteran establishing their need for assistance, the VA will review the selected person. This individual could be a:

  1. Spouse or family member
  2. Professional fiduciary
  3. Court-appointed fiduciary
  4. Another interested party

Any of these above choices are acceptable, but not just anyone can be a fiduciary. For many reasons, it can be difficult for someone to accurately appoint the best person for the job.

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The VA has a strict method for selection to ensure that the veteran’s financials are in the hands of a person who will handle the funds efficiently, legally, and ethically. The VA will assess the appointed fiduciary’s:

  • Ability and willingness to abide by all agreements
  • In-person interview with VA representative
  • Credit score assessment
  • Criminal background
  • Character witnesses interviews

This process is in place to protect the veteran’s rights as well as their money. If the VA decides the current fiduciary doesn’t meet their standards, they’ll appoint one of their own.

Are you looking to become a professional fiduciary? The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs invites all interested parties to submit a resume and cover letter to [email protected].

How to Apply

The application process doesn’t have to be complicated. Submit a request with the selected fiduciary and veteran’s name and contact info accompanied by the veteran’s VA file number to the nearest VA regional office for review.

Ongoing Review Process

Being a VA fiduciary is much like a job – it doesn’t end after being approved. Someone from the VA will perform on-site reviews to make sure duties are being conducted to satisfaction. This is to guard against misuse of benefits and maintain a culture of accountability. For example, those with over 20 beneficiary clients and/or who manage benefits over $50,000.

The VA can conduct reviews as necessary regardless of these criteria, however.

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Other Things to Consider

Some people need help managing their finances, but it doesn’t just stop there. The fiduciary must know and understand the veteran’s need to properly handle their money. This takes into consideration the veteran’s unique situation and also encompasses their beliefs and values. It’s the fiduciary’s responsibility to help the veteran maintain their desired standard of living (within legal and financial means).

What’s Next?

Talk to your local VA office for more information about appointing someone to help manage a veteran’s finances. They’ll have an abundance of resources available and be able to approve or appoint a fiduciary.