My mother has been receiving VA benefits for five years.
She is in a wheelchair with MS and I have been her full time caregiver.
A few months ago she received a letter from the Paralyzed Veterans of
America encouraging her to apply for the Aid & Attendance Benefit.
We made the appointment with her Neurologist to fill out the
application. After answering questions about whether my mother needs
help getting dressed, bathing & preparing food, we unwittingly
answered yes to the question "Do you need help managing your finances?".
We all completely thought we were answering the question about her
needing physical help of getting to and from the bank & mailing
bills. Never in our wildest imagination could we have been prepared for
the VA declaring my mom Mentally Incompetent from that application.
I contacted our representative from the PVA, she didn't seem to think
it was such a big deal & we could just let the VA declare her
incompetent & request for me to be appointed her Fiduciary. I am
already my mothers Power of Attorney and have kept her in her home for
many years. The idea of needing permission to care for my other is
insulting! The idea that my mother is mentally incompetent is insulting!
I had the rep from the PVA submit a statement from her doctor
clarifying that she only needs physical help & is no way mentally
unable to take care of her financial business. Although it was submitted
on time, the VA said they never received any response from us in the 60
days allotted & would be moving forward with the Fiduciary program.
the Field Examiner called & explained he needed my mothers bank
account numbers & bank statements & access to all of her assets.
How can this not be a big deal??? After researching the Fiduciary
Program, all I come up with are horror stories of families losing their
rights & control over their finances. I spoke to both the Field
Examiner & the PVA rep today. They both say that my mother & I
are overreacting. The PVA rep said she has never heard of any one from
her office being unhappy about the Fiduciary Program & she said she
has never had to file an appeal.
We told both the Field Examiner
& the PVA rep that we will not allow an interview in our home &
we will not give her bank accounts numbers to anyone. Her benefits
will be suspended & we want to pursue an appeal.
Are we overreacting? Do we trust our PVA rep to fight for us during the appeal? If not should I file the appeal myself?
help would be appreciated! The most frustrating part of all of this is
the fact the we were doing just fine until we sent in that Aid/
Attendance application. Now we are facing my mother having to walk away
from her benefit.
You've fallen into a trap
along with thousands and thousands of other veterans and their
families. No, you aren't overreacting. Even if you are appointed as
fiduciary, you'll not have control of how any money is spent. You will
first have to get approval from the VA employee who will monitor your
fiduciary activities. If you annoy that person, you'll soon find that
you are no longer the fiduciary and a stranger has been appointed.
a VA appointed fiduciary isn't absolutely required because of the
health status of the veteran, the veteran is always better without one.
baited question is often as simple as, "Who handles the money in your
house?" The veteran usually answers, "My wife does. She writes all the
checks and keeps the checkbook balanced and pays the bills." The
examiner then makes a quick note, "The veteran is incompetent to manage
his own finances."
That's when the fight starts. Most households
in America have one person who does the majority of the drudge work of
paying the bills. My instincts tell me that it's usually the wife who
manages the bank account. Of course, that doesn't mean that the veteran
couldn't handle his own money if he had to, his family is following the
usual pattern of how families work.
But VA enjoys a good fight
with veterans. The VA fiduciary program is universally condemned by any
rational person who has studied it. In the last few years, a small
number of dedicated veterans law attorneys have taken cases like yours
high into the federal courts system where the VA has stonewalled and
continued to do just as the VA wants to do.
There are a small
handful of veterans and their families who have decided that they won't
cooperate with VA. I'm hearing from veterans who will not allow the VA
field examiner into their homes. I'm told of threats to call the local
sheriff if a VA field examiner should try to cross over on to private
property. These sort of cases have caused VA to blink but only for a
second. They're responding by withholding the VA benefits payments that
these veterans need to survive.
The VA fiduciary arm is the bully
on the beach. They kick sand in the faces of the veterans who are least
able to defend themselves. They claim to be following policy and
procedure...the law...but somehow the laws meant to protect and serve
veterans are twisted to take money out of their pockets for no good
reason. The veteran who has a fiduciary appointed is being punished for a
crime that never happened.
Unfortunately, nobody can help you.
The PVA is a successful veterans service organization with a reasonable
track record of assisting veterans with their claims. Unfortunately, the
appointment of a fiduciary brings about the response you got, "the PVA
rep said she has never heard of any one from her office being unhappy
about the Fiduciary Program". If she has never heard of anyone unhappy
with a fiduciary appointment, she hasn't kept up. That just isn't real
There is only one approach to this. You must do it
Veterans law attorneys won't be able to help you. The average
VSO isn't well versed on the complex regulations involved. Your
congressional representative may do an inquiry but he/she will get back a
form letter that says the VA is following the law and to butt out.
have to file an appeal yourself. If you don't file it, it won't happen.
Then you have to settle in for a long battle. VA has hundreds and
hundreds of lawyers supported by tens of thousands of staff who will
enjoy the argument with you.
You can't have a lawyer yet the VA
has a fairly unlimited supply of attorneys and money to ensure that you
have little chance of winning your veterans benefit.
published an awful lot about the VA fiduciary program over the last 5
years or so. Some of it and instructions on how to begin to file the
appeal are here
in the process of updating that page so you may want to check back over
the next few days for anything new. I'll be happy to answer any
questions you may have as you get started.
The VAWatchdog web site is not sponsored by
nor endorsed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Aren't you glad of that?
This may well be the longest, most intense page on VAWatchdog.
The process of appointing a VA fiduciary is extremely complex. If you have been notified of a pending fiduciary appointment, you must be prepared to read & study all of this.
You have to do it yourself. There are no experts who can help you. There are no phone numbers to call. If you believe that you are competent to manage your own finances, you may appeal the VA fiduciary decision. Once notified of a VA fiduciary appointment, you are on your own.
The information presented here may help, but only if you read it.
Consider This Before You Begin, Ask Yourself..."Do I need a fiduciary appointed?": Many veterans in the VA fiduciary program need someone who is responsible and impartial to help them to manage their money.
If you have proven yourself to be less than responsible with your finances or if you are physically unable to manage your finances, you may need the help.
If you simply answered a question wrong during a C & P exam and you do not think you need any help with your finances, you have the right to disagree with and to appeal any attempt to appoint a VA fiduciary for you. The VA Fiduciary Appointment
This is not legal advice. Everything you read on this page is a sort of a guide that you may consider when you receive
notice of an impending appointment of a VA fiduciary. The VA fiduciary
program is one of the most broken of all VA programs. There is no
possible way to predict individual outcomes for you.
There is a lot to read on this page.
You MUST read all of this page carefully and then act for yourself.
There are very few people who can or will help you. Don't waste time
asking for help.
Before you begin...
The VA fiduciary system is complex. It doesn't work very well. There are
a lot of people who are caught in the trap, just like you.
If you arrived on this page because you want to take action regarding
your own case, you must be prepared to spend time reading all this
material. This is a long and busy page with a lot of information.
There are no quick solutions. You won't learn how to make a phone call
and have your problem resolved here. If you aren't willing to take the
time to study what we've put together for you here, you're not likely to
Read this page, then read it again. It's worth the effort.
Incompetent Beneficiary Benefits and Estates Are at Risk for Misuse and Fraud
Needed oversight of beneficiary payments
and estates has not been effective, resulting in the possible misuse or
theft of funds from those least able to protect themselves. VBA needs to provide more effective program oversight to reduce the
risk of misuse or theft of beneficiary funds. VA Regional Office (VARO)
fiduciary program staff need to complete required field examinations to
assess each beneficiary’s living environment and use of the
beneficiary’s funds. VBA needs to better monitor fiduciaries that are
required to submit periodic accountings of income, expenses, and assets
and to follow up on questionable data, independently verify beneficiary
assets, and require documentation of selected expenses reported by
VA may appoint a fiduciary to manage a
veterans VA payment money when VA has reason to believe that the veteran
can't do it for him or her self.
All too often, VA will declare that the veteran is incompetent to
manage his own money. Although this does not mean that the veteran is
mentally defective, once the label of *incompetent* is used, many people
assume that the veteran has significant mental health problems.
The appointment of a fiduciary is sometimes necessary. The law allows
for guardians to be appointed in all walks of life when the courts
determine that an individual may bring harm to themselves by mismanaging
The VA system isn't managed well and fiduciary appointments are often made based on scant evidence.
You may be declared incompetent to manage your own finances during a
simple C & P exam! If the examiner asks you who handles the bills
in your home and you reply that you let your spouse do all that, the
examiner may write a brief note: "Veteran is not competent to handle his
Then your own nightmare begins.
get notice that the VA is proposing to appoint a fiduciary is usually
an unpleasant, unwelcome surprise. The veteran may or may not need help
and guidance with the award money he or she has earned.
The VA fiduciary appointment program is one of the more mismanaged and
poorly understood problems of your VA. The program is changing
however...slowly but surely. If you disagree with the appointment of a
fiduciary in your case, you must act in your own interests and you must
act right now.
Read this page carefully. Then proceed to act to help yourself.
We will emphasize again and again that to fend off an appointment of a
fiduciary is a do-it-yourself project. There are very few people who can
or will help you. Most veterans service officers or veterans attorneys
don't know anything about the VA fiduciary program.
You can do it yourself. We'll provide the basic tools you need to appeal an appointment of a fiduciary.
Section B - Field Examination Requests and Reports
Section C - Issues of Competency and Legal Disability
Section D - Guidelines for Conducting and Reporting Field
Examinations for Adults
Section E - Determining Payees and Follow-up Actions for
Section F - Special Issues Relating to Field Examinations for
Section G - Guidelines for Conducting and reporting Field
Examinations for Minors
Section H - Determining Payees and Follow-up Actions for
Section I - Special Issues Relating to Field Examinations for
Guns & Ammo
One of the first things you'll hear is that if VA declares that you're
"incompetent" is that you can't own a weapon, can't possess a concealed
carry permit and that nobody in your household can keep a gun in the
house where you live.
Some of that is true. When VA declares you incompetent, they turn your
personal details over to the NICS system. Most vets don't realize that
the NICS system, unlike the VA, has a functional appeals process that
takes days, not months or years.
* The first notice you receive from VA
will be a proposal to appoint a fiduciary. This is because VA believes
you may be incompetent to handle the VA money you receive each month.
This is not a final decision and you will have an opportunity to appeal.
* Most of the details of dealing with a fiduciary appointment proposal
are up to you to do for yourself. There are very few advocates who have
knowledge of how this works.
* You have a right to appeal. Just as with any VA decision process you
may appeal all the way into the federal courts system. You appeal this
just as you would any other VA decision.
* You can not choose your fiduciary. VA
should give preference to your wishes for a spouse or other close
relative to be appointed. However, anyone appointed as fiduciary will
have to undergo a thorough credit check and a criminal background
investigation. If there are blemishes on their record, VA is unlikely to
appoint that person.
* The VA fiduciary appointment is made
because VA believes you are "incompetent". This may have come up in a C
& P exam where you told the examiner that someone else helps you to
pay your bills. If you do not believe you are incompetent, you should
appeal any decision to appoint a fiduciary.
Section E - Closing Principal Guardianship Folders (PFGs)
What to do when the fiduciary letter arrives
Most veterans do not understand the VA fiduciary appointment process.
When a letter arrives telling the veteran he or she is incompetent to
handle their VA award money, it's usually a shock.
Very few Veterans Service Officers or advocates within a Congressional
Representatives office are usually of little help. Most lawyers don't
have any experience with this VA action.
The veteran is usually left to fight the battle alone.
VA will often try to appoint a fiduciary when the veteran is rated at
100% for a mental health problem and there will be an award of
retroactive pay that is greater than $20,000.00. There is often no
particular reason for the proposal to appoint a fiduciary.
VA should always try to appoint a close family member although that
doesn't usually happen. In any case, whoever is appointed will be
required to complete paperwork and clear any expenditures by the veteran
through the VA.
If the appointment of a fiduciary can be avoided, it should be.
The process usually works like this:
(1) The veteran has a C & P exam where the topic of finances is
brought up. The examiner may write a brief note that "Veteran is
incompetent to manage his finances." This may or may not be true. I've
observed cases where the veteran said "My wife handles our checkbook"
and that has been interpreted by VA as enough to declare the veteran
(2) A letter will arrive that is a "proposal" to begin an investigation and to appoint a fiduciary.
(3) If the veteran does not properly and timely respond to this
proposal, an appointment is made for a VA Field Examiner (or Agent) to
come to the veterans home to discuss the proposal to appoint a
(4) If the Field Examiner does come to the home they will soon after
begin to run credit reports and other background checks to determine
whether the spouse, parent or perhaps a sibling may act as fiduciary.
(5) If no approval is made for a family member, the FE will see that a
VA appointed "professional" fiduciary is appointed. That person may be a
banker, lawyer or other VA approved person and they will then take over
the veterans VA money. The veteran will then have to seek any funds
through the appointed fiduciary.
Far too many veterans get this sort of notice and then they don't
respond appropriately. If the appropriate response doesn't happen in a
timely manner, the VA will act on the proposal and appoint a fiduciary.
The fiduciary is then free to act to control the finances and the result is often a major problem for the veteran.
The following will apply to actions the veteran must take when he/she is
first notified that a fiduciary appointment is being considered. These
steps must be done as soon as possible after the letter arrives. Time
spent calling a Congressperson, consulting a VSO and so on is usually
Note that all these steps must be conducted in writing. There should be
no phone calls and no emails. Faxes are not a good idea. This is a very
serious matter and the veteran must initiate a strong defensive plan of
action. Letters must be as brief as possible and state all the facts.
Mailing must be done via USPS Certified Mail with Return Receipt
Using the letter templates as above, write your VA Regional Office a very brief letter. This should not be more than one page.
When you write to VA you must not display anger or emotion. Do not write and tell your story. Do not express any anger.
In your letter you must say:
"This letter is a Notice of Disagreement with your proposal to consider the appointment of a fiduciary."
"I disagree with your inference/conclusion that I am incompetent to manage my finances."
"Any examination that has suggested that I am incompetent was not
complete or thorough. The examination was inadequate. I request another
"I request a personal hearing."
"I am not incompetent."
"I request that all my benefits be continued while I appeal your
proposal and that no benefit payments be interrupted or delayed until I
have exhausted all appeals venues."
(3) Send this letter via certified mail only.
(4) Wait for a reply.
While you wait...separate your checking accounts. If your spouse uses
the same account as you, she (he) should open a separate account. The
checking account that your VA check is deposited to should have no other
funds in it. If VA seizes that account, you want as little in it as
Check your credit reports. If there are blemishes you must take care of that now.
Sit down and sort out your finances. Do a financial report on yourself
so that if and when VA pushes for this you will be prepared to answer
questions about your finances.
Do not delay. There are no specialists out there to help you.
the only one who can begin to solve your own issues with VA.
Chapter 5 - Misuse, Negligence, and Reissuance of
I need some advice. The other
day, VA called me to verify some info on my kids. They got dropped for
being 18, and I had to get them added back on because they're in
college. Anyway, after we hung up, the guy calls me right back and says
that they are proposing rating me as incompetent and had me agree that I
understood I wouldn't be allowed to own a gun. I agreed and before I
could ask a question, the guy hung up.
Naturally I immediately
started looking into what he was talking about. So, after reading this
site, countless news articles, and testimonies I'm upset and a little
I recently had a C&P done to raise my compensation
rate. They asked the question about who pays the bills. I said my wife,
not thinking that this could possibly be construed as anything of any
significance. Obviously, I was wrong. I have a pretty good understanding
of what to do if they rule that way, but is there anything I can do to
put the brakes on this train now? I'm not incompetent. I can pay my
bills, and have. I've been my wife's POA while she was TDY, and paid off
my entire credit report last year when I was getting ready to purchase
my house. I still have the POA on my wife, as well as other evidence
that I can and have paid my bills. Is there any way to submit this
documentation during this part of the process?
Thanks for your time and help.
A Nervous Vet
veteran has good reason to be upset and a little scared.
presented a trick question at his C & P exam. The examiner casually
asked about who pays the bills and the unsuspecting veteran gave the
wrong answer. He told the truth. We'd put our money on a bet that said
most American households have one person who writes the checks. Most of
those check writers are the wives. If every man who is blessed with a
wife who will take care of the odious task of bookkeeping is
incompetent, we've got a pandemic on our hands.
enough veterans with this same scenario to believe that it's an
intentional ploy by the VA. What I've not gotten my head around is why?
Why persecute a veteran using a tactic that is really reprehensible? If
the vet appeals or objects, he'll prevail so why go to the trouble in
the first place?
"How to get spouse chosen as va appointed fiduciary"
The spouse should be the first person considered. To be appointed the
individual must show a good credit history and agree to the terms and
conditions of a VA imposed fiduciary appointment.
"can a va field examiner be sued"
Maybe. You will need to consult an attorney who is experienced in VA law. It's likely to be very expensive for you though.
"Lawyers for veterans fiduciary"
Many veterans want to hire a lawyer as soon as they begin the fiduciary
process with VA. Unfortunately, most vets don't understand that there
are limits to what lawyers are able to accomplish. Vets also think that
because they are outraged at the injustice of VA that lawyers will also
be outraged and work for free. While many of my attorney friends do take
on a lot of "pro bono" or no charge work, most fiduciary cases won't be
represented for free. There are steps described on this page that vets
must do for themselves, prior to trying to retain legal counsel.
"What does appointed as fiduciary mean and why is this useful"
An individual who is appointed as fiduciary is responsible for managing
the VA benefits money for a veteran who is declared incompetent to
handle his/her own money. Many veterans who suffer from mental health
issues, dementia or other cognitive problems may need someone to protect
their money for them.
"How much does VA fiduciary get paid?"
The usual fee is somewhere around 4% or 5% of the amount of money paid each month. This will vary from region to region.
I received the dreaded proposal of incompetency that would ultimately
appoint a fiduciary over my finances. In just three (3) months got it
reversed and closed.
Here is how I did it.
I received a notice today from the VA that I am competent for VA
purposes. This comes after a notice of proposal to rate me incompetent
in August 2011. The notice of finding me competent is dated December
2011. It took three (3) months from the date the VA notice to rate me
incompetent was sent to their decision to rate me competent. That is a
very short time considering their backlog of claims.
Incompetency is considered a slap in the face and ugly stigma to we
proud vets. First they tell you they want to take away our ability to
manage our disability funds and also list you with the FBI as a citizen
that is not allowed to own firearms. That alone made me more determined
than ever to beat this proposal.
A. I received the dreaded VA notice of proposal
of incompetency in August 2011. It came right after an appeal hearing
for a higher rating of my IHD in which a DRO not only gave a higher
percentage of disability for IHD but back dated the rating causing the
VA to owe me roughly $20K in retro pay. I read usually if a vet is 100%
rated for a mental disorder (PTSD in my case) and retro pay involves
around the 20K area it will likely trigger an automatic proposal of
incompetency by the VA. I don't know, I'm just saying the experts use
this example all the time and my case scenario fits it perfectly.
B. I sent all of my evidence registered receipt mail as you suggested
along with a brief and polite explanation that the evidence provided is
considered as evidence of support for reversal of their proposal. I
explained that if they do choose to rate me as incompetent I will appeal
the ruling as far as I can.
C. Exactly three (3) months to the day the proposal to rate me
incompetent was received I get notice that the incompetency proposal has
Thanks Jim. You do a great job. For the most part I have always fought
my battles alone but your guidance on your website, the VAWatchdog dot
Org, has given me knowledge to see processes more clearly and helped me
channel my words and actions in a direction that I felt would lead to a
more swift and positive end.
Your readers must understand one thing.
If you have a legitimate claim and wish to submit it to the VA you must
first and foremost research all relevant information about your
disability(s) and then make absolutely sure you are submitting the
proper forms supported soundly with evidence in support of your claim.
Keep it clear. Be timely. Be honest. Submit support of your claim. Done
properly your claim will be much easier and timely for the claims staff
to process your claim.
If you get denied or confused...check with VAWatchdog dot Org...The Bible of VA disability guides.
For purposes of this chapter and chapter 61 of this title, the term "fiduciary" means—
(1) a person who is a guardian, curator, conservator, committee, or
person legally vested with the responsibility or care of a claimant (or a
claimant’s estate) or of a beneficiary (or a beneficiary’s estate); or
(2) any other person having been appointed in a representative capacity
to receive money paid under any of the laws administered by the
Secretary for the use and benefit of a minor, incompetent, or other
Sec. 5507. Inquiry, investigations, and qualification of fiduciaries
(a) Any certification of a person for payment of benefits of a
beneficiary to that person as such beneficiary’s fiduciary under section
5502 of this title shall be made on the basis of—
(1) an inquiry or investigation by the Secretary of the fitness of that
person to serve as fiduciary for that beneficiary, such inquiry or
(A) to be conducted in advance of such certification;
(B) to the extent practicable, to include a face-to-face interview with such person; and
(C) to the extent practicable, to include a copy of a credit report for
such person issued within one year of the date of the proposed
(2) adequate evidence that certification of that person as fiduciary for
that beneficiary is in the interest of such beneficiary (as determined
by the Secretary under regulations); and
(3) the furnishing of any bond that may be required by the Secretary.
(b) As part of any inquiry or investigation of any person under
subsection (a), the Secretary shall request information concerning
whether that person has been convicted of any offense under Federal or
State law which resulted in imprisonment for more than one year. If that
person has been convicted of such an offense, the Secretary may certify
the person as a fiduciary only if the Secretary finds that the person
is an appropriate person to act as fiduciary for the beneficiary
concerned under the circumstances.
(1) In the case of a proposed fiduciary described in paragraph (2), the
Secretary, in conducting an inquiry or investigation under subsection
(a)(1), may carry out such inquiry or investigation on an expedited
basis that may include waiver of any specific requirement relating to
such inquiry or investigation, including the otherwise applicable
provisions of subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) of such subsection. Any
such inquiry or investigation carried out on such an expedited basis
shall be carried out under regulations prescribed for purposes of this
(2) Paragraph (1) applies with respect to a proposed fiduciary who is—
(A) the parent (natural, adopted, or stepparent) of a beneficiary who is a minor;
(B) the spouse or parent of an incompetent beneficiary;
(C) a person who has been appointed a fiduciary of the beneficiary by a court of competent jurisdiction; or
(D) being appointed to manage an estate where the annual amount of
veterans benefits to be managed by the proposed fiduciary does not
exceed $3,600, as adjusted pursuant to section 5312 of this title.
When in the opinion of the Secretary, a temporary fiduciary is needed in
order to protect the assets of the beneficiary while a determination of
incompetency is being made or appealed or a fiduciary is appealing a
determination of misuse, the Secretary may appoint one or more temporary
fiduciaries for a period not to exceed 120 days. If a final decision
has not been made within 120 days, the Secretary may not continue the
appointment of the fiduciary without obtaining a court order for
appointment of a guardian, conservator, or other fiduciary under the
authority provided in section 5502 (b) of this title.
38 USC 5502 - Payments to and supervision of fiduciaries
(1) Where it appears to the Secretary that the interest of the
beneficiary would be served thereby, payment of benefits under any law
administered by the Secretary may be made directly to the beneficiary or
to a relative or some other fiduciary for the use and benefit of the
beneficiary, regardless of any legal disability on the part of the
beneficiary. Where, in the opinion of the Secretary, any fiduciary
receiving funds on behalf of a Department beneficiary is acting in such a
number of cases as to make it impracticable to conserve properly the
estates or to supervise the persons of the beneficiaries, the Secretary
may refuse to make future payments in such cases as the Secretary may
(2) In a case in which the Secretary determines that a commission is
necessary in order to obtain the services of a fiduciary in the best
interests of a beneficiary, the Secretary may authorize a fiduciary
appointed by the Secretary to obtain from the beneficiary’s estate a
reasonable commission for fiduciary services rendered, but the
commission for any year may not exceed 4 percent of the monetary
benefits under laws administered by the Secretary paid on behalf of the
beneficiary to the fiduciary during such year. A commission may not be
authorized for a fiduciary who receives any other form of remuneration
or payment in connection with rendering fiduciary services for benefits
under this title on behalf of the beneficiary.
(b) Whenever it appears that any fiduciary, in the opinion of the
Secretary, is not properly executing or has not properly executed the
duties of the trust of such fiduciary or has collected or paid, or is
attempting to collect or pay, fees, commissions, or allowances that are
inequitable or in excess of those allowed by law for the duties
performed or expenses incurred, or has failed to make such payments as
may be necessary for the benefit of the ward or the dependents of the
ward, then the Secretary may appear, by the Secretary’s authorized
attorney, in the court which has appointed such fiduciary, or in any
court having original, concurrent, or appellate jurisdiction over said
cause, and make proper presentation of such matters. The Secretary, in
the Secretary’s discretion, may suspend payments to any such fiduciary
who shall neglect or refuse, after reasonable notice, to render an
account to the Secretary from time to time showing the application of
such payments for the benefit of such incompetent or minor beneficiary,
or who shall neglect or refuse to administer the estate according to
law. The Secretary may require the fiduciary, as part of such account,
to disclose any additional financial information concerning the
beneficiary (except for information that is not available to the
fiduciary). The Secretary may appear or intervene by the Secretary’s
duly authorized attorney in any court as an interested party in any
litigation instituted by the Secretary or otherwise, directly affecting
money paid to such fiduciary under this section.
(c) Authority is hereby granted for the payment of any court or other
expenses incident to any investigation or court proceeding for the
appointment of any fiduciary or other person for the purpose of payment
of benefits payable under laws administered by the Secretary or the
removal of such fiduciary and appointment of another, and of expenses in
connection with the administration of such benefits by such
fiduciaries, or in connection with any other court proceeding hereby
authorized, when such payment is authorized by the Secretary.
(d) All or any part of any benefits the payment of which is suspended or
withheld under this section may, in the discretion of the Secretary, be
paid temporarily to the person having custody and control of the
incompetent or minor beneficiary, to be used solely for the benefit of
such beneficiary, or, in the case of an incompetent veteran, may be
apportioned to the dependent or dependents, if any, of such veteran. Any
part not so paid and any funds of a mentally incompetent or insane
veteran not paid to the chief officer of the institution in which such
veteran is a patient nor apportioned to the veteran’s dependent or
dependents may be ordered held in the Treasury to the credit of such
beneficiary. All funds so held shall be disbursed under the order and in
the discretion of the Secretary for the benefit of such beneficiary or
the beneficiary’s dependents. Any balance remaining in such fund to the
credit of any beneficiary may be paid to the beneficiary if the
beneficiary recovers and is found competent, or if a minor, attains
majority, or otherwise to the beneficiary’s fiduciary, or, in the event
of the beneficiary’s death, to the beneficiary’s personal
representative, except as otherwise provided by law; however, payment
will not be made to the beneficiary’s personal representative if, under
the law of the beneficiary’s last legal residence, the beneficiary’s
estate would escheat to the State. In the event of the death of a
mentally incompetent or insane veteran, all gratuitous benefits under
laws administered by the Secretary deposited before or after August 7,
1959, in the personal funds of patients trust fund on account of such
veteran shall not be paid to the personal representative of such
veteran, but shall be paid to the following persons living at the time
of settlement, and in the order named: The surviving spouse, the
children (without regard to age or marital status) in equal parts, and
the dependent parents of such veteran, in equal parts. If any balance
remains, such balance shall be deposited to the credit of the applicable
current appropriation; except that there may be paid only so much of
such balance as may be necessary to reimburse a person (other than a
political subdivision of the United States) who bore the expenses of
last sickness or burial of the veteran for such expenses. No payment
shall be made under the two preceding sentences of this subsection
unless claim therefor is filed with the Secretary within five years
after the death of the veteran, except that, if any person so entitled
under said two sentences is under legal disability at the time of death
of the veteran, such five-year period of limitation shall run from the
termination or removal of the legal disability.
(e) Any funds in the hands of a fiduciary appointed by a State court or
the Secretary derived from benefits payable under laws administered by
the Secretary, which under the law of the State wherein the beneficiary
had last legal residence would escheat to the State, shall escheat to
the United States and shall be returned by such fiduciary, or by the
personal representative of the deceased beneficiary, less legal expenses
of any administration necessary to determine that an escheat is in
order, to the Department, and shall be deposited to the credit of the
applicable revolving fund, trust fund, or appropriation.