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Public Trustee office clarifies its role
To the editor:
I am writing with respect to a recent letter to the editor: A Differing Take On How Public Guardian Trustee Works–Or Doesn’t–for Seniors” (July 12 Capital News) to correct some inaccuracies and misapprehensions about the role of the PGT and how the office interacts with its clients and their family members.
The PGT was established under the Public Guardian and Trustee Act. It operates under that and numerous other statutes to protect the legal, financial and, in some cases, personal and health care interests of adults who require assistance in decision making. The PGT is required by law to investigate allegations of abuse, neglect or self neglect, which involves following a detailed process of information gathering and a thorough analysis before any actions are taken.
It’s important for the public to understand that the PGT does not declare individuals incapable. Assessments are conducted by health professionals who are employed by a health authority and are independent of the PGT. If a health authority issues a certificate of incapability, the PGT is appointed as Committee of Estate and is then responsible for protecting the financial and legal interests of the adult.
The PGT acts when there is no other suitable person to act on behalf of the adult, including situations involving family conflict that may not be publicly evident.
As Committee of Estate, the PGT secures assets of the adult and administers them on behalf of the adult. All assets are maintained in the adult’s own name and used for the benefit of the adult. The PGT does not convert client assets to its own or to government use.
In accordance with a regulation established by the provincial government, the PGT charges fees and commissions for its administration of the adult’s estate, similar to the process when a private company would be providing the service.
The PGT may cease to be committee if the adult’s health has improved and he or she is reassessed and a certificate of capability is issued or an individual applies to court to replace the PGT as committee.
The PGT has a transparent complaints process for clients, family or friends who would like us to review a decision that we’ve made. Clients, family or friends may also take a complaint to the Provincial Ombudsperson for review.
I encourage interested persons to visit the PGT website (www.trustee.bc.ca) which offers a wide range of information regarding PGT services.
Catherine M. Romanko,
Public Guardian and Trustee for B.C.