Mentally Incompetent Adults

Case Management

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a subject for the most frequently asked questions about:

General Case Management:

Why should full information about a client's affairs be reported to The Public Guardian and Trustee?

Unless The Public Guardian and Trustee has full knowledge of the client's affairs, (including assets, income, debts and other responsibilities), it is impossible to administer the client's estate properly. In many cases, clients cannot adequately describe their affairs so information must be gathered from other sources, especially close relatives or friends.

Whenever possible, a questionnaire designed to obtain this information is sent to a close relative or friend. Prompt completion and return of this form will greatly help the administration of the client's estate, as will prompt reporting of any asset owned by the client.

Will information about a client's estate be disclosed to others?

No. All client information is confidential. In some cases, if a client's best interests would be served, The Public Guardian and Trustee does exercise discretion to release information to close family members. No information about a client's affairs is ever given to the general public or released for research purposes.

Are there any charges for the services of The Public Guardian and Trustee?

Yes. Under The Public Guardian and Trustee Act, The Public Guardian and Trustee may collect fees for its services from the client's assets. The amount of these fees is set by provincial law, and they are similar to those charged by private trust companies.

Two types of fees are charged. Fixed-percentage fees are charged on receipts and disbursements, and for asset management. In addition, specific fees are assessed for preparing income tax returns, legal services and the services of investigators. The Office of The Public Guardian and Trustee will gladly explain and discuss fees with the families or representatives of clients. For more information, see our Fee Schedule.

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Asset Management:

Does The Public Guardian and Trustee collect money payable to clients?

Yes. The Public Guardian and Trustee collects wages, pensions, disability payments, Workers Compensation payments, annuities, mortgage and agreement for sale payments, investment income, rents and legacies. The Public Guardian and Trustee is the only person who can cash clients' cheques and give valid receipts to the payer.

What happens to clients' assets?

Individual bank accounts

If the client is likely to be incapable for a long time, usually the bank accounts are closed and the proceeds credited to the client's account with The Public Guardian and Trustee. Occasionally, accounts are maintained at the bank or frozen, until the client recovers the ability to manage his or her affairs independently.

Joint bank account with another person

Joint bank accounts are frozen and the money may be placed in the client's Public Guardian and Trustee account. The money will be held until an agreement about the ownership of the fund is reached.


It is credited to the client's account with The Public Guardian and Trustee.

Contents of safety deposit box

These are listed and, in the majority of cases, removed and placed in safekeeping in The Public Guardian and Trustee's office.


Investments are evaluated and either held or sold, depending on whether the client is likely to recover fairly quickly, whether cash is needed, and what the risk level is for the particular investments. Highly speculative securities may be sold to prevent loss if the market falls.

Real Estate/Homes

If a client owns a home and is likely to return to it, or has dependants living in the home, every effort is made to retain it. If the client's stay in hospital is expected to be short, and there are no dependants in the home, it will be secured but may be left vacant. All this assumes that the funds are available to meet taxes, mortgage expenses, repairs and other expenses connected with the property.

If funds are not available to pay expenses, or if it is expected that the person will never use the property again and there are no dependants in the home, it will probably be sold. However, there is an exception to this. When a client specifically leaves the property to someone in his or her will and has the funds to maintain the house, the property may then be kept for the intended beneficiary.

If the property is put up for sale, every effort is made to get the best price and terms.

Most properties are sold after an appraisal and listing by an agent on the multiple listing service. With properties in smaller communities, where an appraiser may not be available, two real estate agents are asked to provide opinions of value of the property. The property will then be listed with one of the agents at the highest value. The client's closest next of kin, if known to The Public Guardian and Trustee, are usually consulted before the sale of property.

For clients who were living in rented accommodations, the same process applies. Depending on the client's condition and his or her available funds, arrangements can be made to pay the rent and maintain the premises. However, if The Public Guardian and Trustee thinks it advisable, the home may be given up.

Furniture and other personal belongings

If clients are likely to return home, their furnishings and other non-perishable belongings will be maintained in the home or in storage, if appropriate. If a client is likely to remain incapable and will not need the belongings, they may be sold at public auction and the proceeds credited to the client's account. Alternatively, a trusted friend or relative may be asked to store the belongings for the client.

However, if personal property remains in the possession of the client or the client's family members, The Public Guardian and Trustee will not be responsible for it.


Vehicles depreciate very quickly and the cost of adequate storage mounts rapidly. Unless there is very good reason for storage, cars generally are sold at public auction as soon as possible. Members of the immediate family may be allowed to drive the client's car, but proof of adequate insurance coverage is always required.

Will The Public Guardian and Trustee consult with the client and next-of-kin concerning the client's assets?

Yes. The Public Guardian and Trustee's policy is to involve clients and their families in disposing of major assets and sentimental items. This is subject to a client's ability to understand, the interest and availability of next-of-kin and business circumstances. There may also be cases where there is such disagreement within a family that The Public Guardian and Trustee must make a decision without family input.

Can clients receive and manage their assets while The Public Guardian and Trustee controls them?

Yes. The effects of mental illness and diseases associated with old age vary. A person may be able to manage some things but not others. The Public Guardian and Trustee tries to manage a client's assets so that the client's independence and abilities are best respected. As long as a client's assets are secure, The Public Guardian and Trustee will co-operate and minimize its role.

If clients' dependants are in need, will The Public Guardian and Trustee help them with clients' assets?

Yes. The type and amount of assistance will depend upon the circumstances of each case, such as the needs of the dependants, the available assets, and the wishes and prior practice of the client. Dependants who need help should promptly contact The Public Guardian and Trustee.

Can a client's family take over and use his or her assets?

No. Clients' assets belong to them, and the fact that clients may be unable to use their assets does not transfer their right of ownership to others.

If clients lack enough money to take care of their obligations and help dependants, can The Public Guardian and Trustee use government funds for these purposes?

No. The Public Guardian and Trustee administers the client's own assets. The staff try to identify any sources of income to which a client is entitled, and applies for these on his or her behalf. These may include social assistance, government pension or other government entitlements, but The Public Guardian and Trustee is not a direct source of funds.

What happens if The Public Guardian and Trustee sells real or personal property that a client has left to someone in his/her Will?

When the client dies, the beneficiary will have a right to all or part of the proceeds of the sale, unless the funds have been spent to support or maintain the client.

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Expense and Debt Management:

What happens if a client does not have enough money to pay for ongoing expenses and to cover past debts?

Each case is unique, but the current well-being of clients and meeting their immediate needs takes priority. Often, adult services administrators will contact creditors to reach agreements to suspend further interest charges and/or set up a payment schedule that the client can afford. In rare cases, The Public Guardian and Trustee may file for bankruptcy protection for a client.

What priority is given to the debts that are held by a client?

During a client's lifetime, debts are paid at the discretion of the adult services administrator. If a client's assets and income are sufficient, all legitimate outstanding debts will be paid.

How is budgeting conducted for clients?

adult services administrators prepare annual budgets for clients and, except for special encroachments, maintain spending within the budget guidelines.

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Personal Case Management:

Does The Public Guardian and Trustee actually provide personal care to its clients?

No. The Public Guardian and Trustee delegates the day-to-day responsibility for personal care of its clients to the manager of the Regional Health Authority where the client lives. A community mental health worker, home care coordinator or other appropriate person is assigned to oversee the personal care of the client.

In some cases, when the client lives in a personal care home, the personal care will be managed by the personal care home, without the involvement of a regional health authority.

In all cases, The Public Guardian and Trustee maintains the ultimate responsibility for making decisions.

How does The Public Guardian and Trustee provide informed consent for a client's medical treatment?

When asked to provide consent for a client's medical treatment, the adult services administrator gives careful consideration to the following:

  • Is the client capable of giving informed consent?
  • Did the client express his or her wishes while competent?
  • Did the client make a Health Care Directive and appoint a proxy?
  • What is in the client's best interests?
  • What are the wishes of family?
  • What are the risks versus benefits of treatment or no treatment?

In some cases, the adult services administrator consults with the office's legal staff and/or management in making the decision. Each time a request is received for medical consent, the case is examined individually, and consent is not always given.

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Investment Management:

Will a client's surplus funds be invested?

In most cases, cash held on behalf of a client is deposited in The Public Guardian and Trustee's common fund, where it earns interest and is completely fluid. The common fund is invested in government bonds of varying maturities. The Public Guardian and Trustee receives advice from its External Investment Committee about bond purchases for its common fund.

Is interest paid on client accounts?

Yes, interest is paid to each client's account monthly. In some circumstances, especially with large estates, The Public Guardian and Trustee purchases securities such as government bonds or guaranteed investment certificates for individual clients.

Does the Public Guardian and Trustee follow policy for investments?

The Public Guardian and Trustee has an investment policy, which can be viewed using the following link: Investment Policy

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Tax Management:

What happens if a person who becomes a client has not filed past tax returns?

The Public Guardian and Trustee's accounting and tax specialists will file any outstanding tax returns for a client. Any refunds received are credited to the client's account, and any amounts owing are paid if the client's funds permit.

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