What is the role of the Public Guardian and Trustee and when does it get involved in estate administration?
The Public Guardian and Trustee (“PGT”), is a corporation established under the Public Guardian and Trustee Act and its role is to protect the interests of British Columbians who do not have the legal capacity to protect their own interests. The mandate of the PGT is to:
- Protect the legal and financial interests of children under the age of 19 years.
- Protect the legal, financial, personal and health care interests of adults who require assistance in decision making.
- Administer the estates of deceased and missing persons.
The PGT is independent from government, follows prudent business practices, and is bound by both common law and the statutory fiduciary principles associated with being a Trustee or Agent.
When a person dies and leaves a valid will, the role of the executor named in the will is to ensure all debts are paid, including funeral costs, locate all assets owned by the deceased and sell or distribute those assets, prepare a final tax return for the deceased, and distribute any residue to the beneficiaries named in the will. If the executor is unable or unwilling to act and there is no one else willing and able to administer the estate, such as an alternate executor, the PGT may get involved in administering the estate. If involved the PGT would administer and distribute the estate following the instructions in the will.
When a person dies without a Will, they die “intestate”, and British Columbia’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act establishes the people who have a right to administer the estate and how the estate’s assets will be distributed. If there is no next of kin willing and able to take on the role of administrator, the PGT may consider administering the estate after an assessment determines whether the services of the PGT are warranted. The PGT does not administer estates if the estimated gross value of the estate’s assets is not enough to pay funeral costs and PGT fees.
It is also possible to make referrals for Estate and Personal Trust Services to the PGT and in appropriate circumstances, the PGT may agree to be appointed executor in a will.
Estate planning is an important consideration for all of us and, given the current environment, has become a priority for many of our clients. Having a Will is one of the most important things you can do to protect you and your family, if you do not have a Will or your Will needs to be updated, we can help. Milestone Real Estate Lawyers has years of experience in drafting Wills so that your children will have the guardians you have chosen, and your assets go where you want them to go and not where a government statute says they will go.
We are open and have adapted our practices to ensure continued support for our clients. If you would like more information please call us at 778-726-0199 and press 4 for our Wills and Estate Team or complete the Milestone Real Estate Lawyer Contact Form.