What Is a Fiduciary?
A fiduciary manages the monetary benefits of another person. That person receiving financial benefits is a beneficiary. For a veteran beneficiary, this can encompass the management of their VA benefits and other income they may collect. The veteran can choose someone, or the VA will appoint a fiduciary to step in and handle such affairs.
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 illness or 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. More specifically, potential responsibilities 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 or phone number
- Income or dependents
- Hospitalization in a VA treatment facility
- Death of the beneficiary or 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, complete, records and 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 or 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 spouse or family member
- Court-appointed fiduciary
- Another interested party
- A professional fiduciary
Either of these selections is 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.
Veterans who were diagnosed with mesothelioma may be eligible for VA compensation. To find out if you qualify, speak with a patient advocate today.
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 just end after the approval. Someone from the VA will perform onside reviews to make sure duties are being conducted to satisfaction. This is to guard against misuse of benefits and keep accountability. More specifically, 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.
Veterans with mesothelioma can take action without affecting their benefits.
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 needs to properly handle their money. This takes into consideration the veteran’s unique situation and besides needs, also encompasses beliefs and values. It’s the fiduciary’s responsibility to help the veteran maintain their desired standard of living (within legal and financial means).
Talk to your local VA for more information about VA benefits appointing someone to help manage them. They’ll have an abundance of resources available for veterans and those interested in being a VA fiduciary.