When seniors need help to manage due to an illness, accident, disability or diseases associated with aging, their judgment may be impaired.
Seniors may no longer be able to perform daily tasks which are important to their health and safety, and may be unable to make informed choices.
The decision as to whether seniors are capable of managing their financial and legal affairs, or making personal decisions, is a legal one, based on medical evidence.
A doctor must examine the senior and determine whether that individual has the mental capacity to understand the impact of the decisions faced in their lives.
Seniors may have authorized someone else to make decisions through an Enduring Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement.
If no such agreement is in place and there is a demonstrated need for assistance, the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) may be appointed.
The PGT is put in place to protect the legal rights and financial interests of seniors who can’t protect their own interests and have no one else to help handle that responsibility.
The PGT is independent of government, intended to make decisions in their best interest of their client senior.
When the PGT is appointed by the court to manage a senior’s affairs, their role is to protect a senior’s property and financial interests, and has authority to deal with those assets.
If at some point a senior is medically declared capable to manage their own affairs, the PGT’s involvement is ended.
The PGT’s goal is to provide the level of help the seniors need, and to make decisions, where necessary, that the seniors would have made had they been capable.
The PGT pays expenses from a senior’s trust fund.
If the individual is in a care facility, the PGT pays their maintenance charges and provides additional money for small purchases if a senior can afford it.
If a senior lives on their own, those costs are looked after as well.
If the senior does not have money to cover living expenses, the PGT can apply for income assistance on their behalf.
The PGT involves the seniors and their families in all major financial and legal decisions, subject to such things as the senior’s wishes, prior history and ability to understand, the interest and availability of family, how urgent the matter is and confidentiality.
If a senior dies while the PGT is in effect, all of that client’s assets become part of their final estate.
Until those assets have been transferred, the PGT safeguards the assets and continues to collect any income where warranted.
For further information on the role of the PGT, call 604-775-1007 or email ClericalRequest6@trustee.bc.ca.