Getting to know the Senior Master's Office
Use these links to find the answers to frequently asked questions about the Senior Master's (Funds in Court) Office.
How funds in Court work
Use these links to find the answers to frequently asked questions about how funds in Court work. This information applies to people who are beneficiaries of the Court.
- Why does the Senior Master have control of my money?
- Why can I not have control over my money?
- What do I have to do to get control of my money?
- Why can’t I be paid out if it is my money?
- How much money do I have?
Using funds in Court
Use these links to find the answers to frequently asked questions about how funds in Court can be accessed and used. This information applies to people who are beneficiaries of the Court.
- How can I get my funds to buy something?
- What sort of items can I use my funds in Court money for?
- Can I buy a car?
- Can I buy a house?
- How do I make application for payment out of funds in Court?
- Who decides if I can use my funds in Court?
- What do I do if the Senior Master does not approve my application?
Use these links to find the answers to frequently asked questions about key terms used in the administration of funds in Court.
- What is CF-2?
- What is CF-3?
- Why are there withdrawals listed on my CF-2 account statement?
- Why do my statements talk about ‘Frank’?
- Can you do my personal tax return?
Use these links to find the answers to frequently asked questions about other payments that beneficiaries may be entitled to, and how having funds in Court can affect them.
- Why does having funds in Court affect my Centrelink payment when I don’t have control of my money?
- I received compensation from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) – can I ask for more money?
'Funds in Court' is money that has been paid through the Supreme Court, the County Court, the Magistrates’ Court or the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT).
This money is usually compensation, from a will or a payment to someone who is under 18 and has lost a parent or been a victim of crime.
A beneficiary of the Court is someone who has their funds held by the Supreme Court of Victoria and administered by the Senior Master.
There are more than 5,000 beneficiaries in Australia.
The Senior Master is an Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. The Senior Master is responsible for all funds held in Court.
The Senior Master has control of your money because a Judge or Magistrate has decided that you need help managing your money.
This is because you are under what it known as a ‘legal disability’. It might be because you have an intellectual or physical disability (or both) or you are under 18.
If you have an intellectual or physical disability, you need to prove that you have capacity to manage your own affairs. This means going through an assessment by a neuropsychologist or occupational therapist.
If you are turning 18 you can apply to have your funds paid out to you. See When you turn 18.
The Senior Master might decide it is in your best interests to have your money managed by the SMO. This is usually because your disability or personal circumstances might make it difficult for you to manage the money in the long term .
Everyone has a different amount held in Court. You will receive a statement twice a year which will tell you how much money you have. You can also phone the SMO and ask your Trust Officer to let you know.
You can access your funds – it is your money. You need to apply to the Senior Master. An application is usually made in writing. Talk to your Trust Officer and they can help you with this.
You can apply to use your funds for all sorts of things. You might want to buy some clothes or shoes, or go on a trip. You can apply to use your funds for furniture or things for your home. If you are studying you may be able to cover the costs of your course, uniform or pay for a computer.
Some people have used their funds in Court to buy a house or a car.
Find out more in What your funds can be used for.
Some beneficiaries are able to buy a car using their funds in Court. It always depends on your own circumstances. You need to prove that you can afford all the costs involved with owning a car. You also need to prove that you (or someone who will be driving you) has a current Drivers Licence and is able to be insured.
Find out more in Buying a car.
Some beneficiaries are able to buy a house using their funds in Court. It always depends on your own circumstances. You need to prove that you can afford all the costs involved with owning a house, like insurance, rates and maintaining the property. Find out more in Buying a house.
You might also need to modify your home to suit your disability. Find out more in Modifying a house.
You can make an application by either:
- phoning the SMO and talking to your Trust Officer
- sending an email or letter
- using one of our online application forms
Only the Senior Master can decide if you can access your funds in Court.
This is because funds are paid into Court by a court order, and can only be paid out by a court order. Only the Senior Master has the authority to make a court order to pay funds out.
The Senior Master always considers your immediate and long term needs before making a decision.
If your application is not approved, you may be able to make some changes and re-submit it to the Senior Master. There might also be another option or solution for you to follow. You should talk to your Trust Officer about what you can do.
CF-2 stands for Common Fund 2. This is a type of account that beneficiaries have their money in.
Common Fund 2 is similar to a bank account but it is controlled by the Senior Master. Interest accrues daily and is paid yearly. Find out more in Common funds.
CF-3 stands for Common Fund 3. This fund is similar to a shares portfolio. The Senior Master invests primarily in 'blue-chip' companies which, generally, are low-risk but return solid profits.
Beneficiaries' money is combined in Common Fund 3 to purchase these shares. Find out more in Common funds.
Twice a year, you will receive a statement from the SMO which lists every deposit or withdrawal for your accounts. You receive a separate statement for both Common Fund 2 and Common Fund 3.
Some withdrawals from your Common Fund 2 might be deposits into your Common Fund 3 account. Otherwise, the statements list every amount that you spend from your funds in Court. If you receive maintenance payments, these will also be listed on your statement as a withdrawal.
Find out more in Understanding your statements.
Some beneficiaries have asked why there is someone called ‘Frank’ listed on their statements. 'Frank'is not a person, but is short for ‘franking dividend’. This is related to your units of shares.
The SMO does not do personal tax returns for beneficiaries.
You should go to a tax accountant for help if you need to lodge a personal tax return. Your accountant can call the SMO to discuss any tax-related matters.
The SMO does do a ‘trust tax return’ for every beneficiary each year. You will receive a copy of your trust tax return in the mail. You should wait until you have this before doing your personal tax return, as you may have earned interest on your funds that needs to be declared.
If you use, or get benefit from, your funds in Court, then Centrelink consider it as income for the income and assets tests.
This is the same as if you had a private trust fund. It is the law under the Social Security Act 1991.
I received compensation from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) – can I ask for more money?
If you have been paid money (an 'award'), you are able to apply for more assistance for things like counselling, medical expenses or some payments. This is known as a ‘variation of award’.
If you think this would help you, please contact VOCAT. If you’re not sure you can talk to your Trust Officer first.