Payment of an amount owed to a person at time of death (RMG 402)

Audience

This guide is relevant to:

officials in all non-corporate Commonwealth entities who are required to make a payment of an amount owed by the Commonwealth to a person at the time of their death.

Key points

Section 25 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule) provides a discretionary power for the Finance Minister to authorise the payment of an amount if, at the time of a person’s death, the Commonwealth owed that amount to the person.

The Finance Minister has delegated this power to accountable authorities of non-corporate Commonwealth entities through the Finance Minister to Accountable Authorities of Non-Corporate Commonwealth Entities Delegation 2022. The delegation can be found on the PGPA legislation, associated policies and other instruments page and under Policies, legislation and guidelines.

The Finance Minister (or delegate) has the discretion to:

  • decide who receives an amount payable by the Commonwealth (e.g. a deceased person’s spouse or family member to help them to satisfy a debt or other requirement) and
  • make the payment before probate or letters of administration are produced (which can be a lengthy and complex process).
Section 25 of the PGPA Rule is concerned with the discharge of a debt on the part of the Commonwealth. It is therefore likely to be used mainly in circumstances involving the death of an employee with accrued salary and entitlements potentially payable to a spouse or family member. This power is for limited circumstances where there is no other way to make the payment to an appropriate person, such as a spouse or family member.
 
The Finance Minister or delegate:
  • can decide who receives an amount payable by the Commonwealth (e.g. a deceased person’s spouse or family member to help them to satisfy a debt or other requirement)
  • can make the payment before probate or letters of administration are produced (which can be a lengthy and complex process)
  • must take into consideration the people who are entitled to the payment under succession law (section 25(3) of the PGPA Rule). However, the Finance Minister or delegate is not bound to act in accordance with that law.
In practice, section 25 is expected to be used in limited circumstances, since many statutory payment schemes (such as superannuation Acts) include arrangements for payments owed to a deceased person. 
Section 25 of the PGPA Rule is meant for circumstances when a payment is owed to a deceased person and there is no other provision to make this payment to an appropriate recipient, such as a spouse or family member. 
This rule was made under section 103(f) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). Section 103 of the PGPA Act and section 25 of the PGPA Rule do not create an appropriation – payments must be made from existing appropriations.

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