38 CFR § 13.100 - Fiduciary appointments.

§ 13.100 Fiduciary appointments.

(a) Authority. Except as prescribed in paragraph (b) of this section, the Hub Manager will appoint a fiduciary for a beneficiary who:

(1) Has been rated by VA as being unable to manage his or her VA benefits,

(2) Has been determined by a court with jurisdiction as being unable to manage his or her financial affairs, or

(3) Has not reached age of majority.

(b) Exceptions. The Hub Manager will not appoint a fiduciary for a beneficiary who:

(1) Is eligible for supervised direct payment under § 13.110, or

(2) Is not a beneficiary described in paragraph (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this section and has not reached age of majority, but

(i) Is serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, or

(ii) Has been discharged from service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or

(iii) Qualifies for survivors' benefits as a surviving spouse.

(c) Retroactive benefit payments. The Hub Manager will withhold any retroactive, one-time, or other lump-sum benefit payment awarded to a beneficiary described in paragraph (a) of this section until the Hub Manager has appointed a fiduciary for the beneficiary and, if applicable, the fiduciary has obtained a surety bond under § 13.230.

(d) Initial appointment. In appointing a fiduciary, the Hub Manager will make every effort to appoint the person, agency, organization, or institution that will best serve the interest of the beneficiary. The Hub Manager will consider the results of a field examination, which will include a face-to-face meeting with the beneficiary and the beneficiary's dependents at their residence when practicable, and will conduct the investigation prescribed in paragraph (f) of this section. The Hub Manager will also consider whether:

(1) VA benefits can be paid directly to the beneficiary with limited and temporary supervision by VA, as prescribed in § 13.110;

(2) The circumstances require appointment of a temporary fiduciary under paragraph (h) of this section; and

(3) The proposed fiduciary is complying with the responsibilities of a fiduciary prescribed in § 13.140 with respect to all beneficiaries in the fiduciary program currently being served by the proposed fiduciary and whether the proposed fiduciary can handle an additional appointment without degrading service for any other beneficiary.

(e) Order of preference in appointing a fiduciary. The Hub Manager will consider individuals and entities for appointment in the following order of preference, provided that the proposed fiduciary is qualified and willing to serve and the appointment would serve the beneficiary's interest:

(1) The preference stated by the beneficiary in the fiduciary program, if the beneficiary has the capacity to state such a preference. If the beneficiary has a legal guardian appointed to handle his or her affairs, the Hub Manager will presume that the beneficiary does not have the capacity to state a preference and will consider individuals and entities in the order of preference prescribed in paragraphs (e)(2) through (10) of this section;

(2) The beneficiary's spouse;

(3) A relative who has care or custody of the beneficiary or his or her funds;

(4) Any other relative of the beneficiary;

(5) Any friend, acquaintance, or other person who is willing to serve as fiduciary for the beneficiary without a fee;

(6) The chief officer of a public or private institution in which the beneficiary receives care or which has custody of the beneficiary;

(7) The bonded officer of an Indian reservation, if applicable;

(8) An individual or entity who has been appointed by a court with jurisdiction to handle the beneficiary's affairs;

(9) An individual or entity who is not willing to serve without a fee; or

(10) A temporary fiduciary, if necessary.

(f) Investigation of a proposed fiduciary. Except as prescribed in paragraph (f)(3) of this section, before appointing a fiduciary for a beneficiary in the fiduciary program, the Hub Manager will conduct an investigation regarding the proposed fiduciary's qualifications.

(1) The investigation will include:

(i) To the extent practicable, a face-to-face interview of the proposed fiduciary;

(ii) A review of a credit report on the proposed fiduciary issued by a credit reporting agency no more than 30 days prior to the date of the proposed appointment;

(iii) A criminal background check to determine whether the proposed fiduciary has been convicted of any offense which would be a bar to serving as a fiduciary under § 13.130 or which the Hub Manager may consider and weigh under the totality of the circumstances regarding the proposed fiduciary's qualifications;

(iv) Obtaining proof of the proposed fiduciary's identity and relationship to the beneficiary, if any; and

(v) A determination regarding the need for surety bond under § 13.230 and the proposed fiduciary's ability to obtain such a bond.

(2) The Hub Manager may, at any time after the initial appointment or reappointment of the fiduciary for a beneficiary, repeat all or part of the investigation prescribed by paragraph (f)(1) of this section to ensure that the fiduciary continues to meet the qualifications for service and there is no current bar to service under § 13.130.

(3) The Hub Manager must conduct the requirements of paragraphs (f)(1)(i),(ii) and (iii) for every subsequent appointment of the fiduciary for each beneficiary.

(4) VA will not conduct the investigation prescribed by paragraph (f) of this section if the proposed fiduciary is an entity, such as the trust department of a bank that provides fiduciary services.

(g) Expedited appointment. The Hub Manager may waive the requirements of paragraphs (f)(1)(i) through (iii) of this section and expedite the appointment of a proposed fiduciary if the Hub Manager determines that an expedited appointment would be in the beneficiary's interest and:

(1) The proposed fiduciary is:

(i) The beneficiary's parent (natural, adopted, or step-parent) and the beneficiary is less than the age of majority, or

(ii) The beneficiary's spouse; or

(2) The annual amount of VA benefits the proposed fiduciary would manage for the beneficiary does not exceed the amount specified in 38 U.S.C. 5507(c)(2)(D), as adjusted by VA pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 5312.

(h) Temporary fiduciary appointments.

(1) The Hub Manager may appoint a temporary fiduciary for a period not to exceed 120 days in any of the following circumstances:

(i) VA has removed a fiduciary for cause under § 13.500 and cannot expedite the appointment of a successor fiduciary, and the beneficiary has an immediate need for fiduciary services; or

(ii) The Hub Manager determines that the beneficiary has an immediate need for fiduciary services and it would not be in the beneficiary's or the beneficiary's dependents' interest to pay benefits to the beneficiary until a fiduciary is appointed.

(2) Any temporary fiduciary appointed under this paragraph (h) must be:

(i) An individual or entity that has already been subject to the procedures for appointment in paragraphs (d) and (f) of this section, and

(ii) Performing satisfactorily as a fiduciary for at least one other VA beneficiary for whom the fiduciary has submitted an annual accounting that VA has approved.

(i) Authorization for disclosure of information. The Hub Manager will:

(1) Obtain from every proposed fiduciary who is an individual a written authorization for VA to disclose to the beneficiary information regarding any fiduciary matter that may be appealed under § 13.600, including but not limited to the fiduciary's qualifications for appointment under § 13.100 or misuse of benefits under § 13.400. Such disclosures may occur in VA's correspondence with the beneficiary, in a VA fiduciary appointment or misuse of benefits decision, in a statement of the case for purposes of appeal under § 13.600, or upon request by the beneficiary, the beneficiary's guardian, or the beneficiary's accredited attorney, claims agent, or representative;

(2) Notify the proposed fiduciary that the disclosed information may be used by the beneficiary in appealing a VA appointment or misuse decision to the Board of Veterans' Appeals under § 13.600; and

(3) Terminate consideration of a proposed fiduciary if the individual refuses to provide the authorization prescribed in paragraph (i)(1) of this section. Such refusal is a bar to serving as a fiduciary for a beneficiary under § 13.130(b).

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 5502, 5506, 5507)

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