Garton & Harris

Estate administation: The public guardian and trustee's role

Where there is a will, there is a way. And when the person named in a will to be the executor cannot take on the task of estate administration in British Columbia (nor can an intestate successor or beneficiary or any other person), the province may step in and appoint a public guardian and trustee (PGT) who may do so. This individual would follow the directives in the will.

When a person dies without a will, or intestate, a PGT may step in to administer the estate if there are no family members available. However, a PGT will only consider doing so when there is enough money in the estate to cover funeral costs and to pay for the PGT's services. Those services include anything an executor would have done such as make funeral arrangements, file a final tax return, paying off debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

A PGT can also actually be included in a will to act as an executor. British Columbia residents can inquire about this possibility through PGT Estate and Personal Trust Services. There may be occasions when family members or friends can't take on the role of an estate administrator and knowing this before writing an estate plan would be helpful.

A British Columbia attorney familiar with estate administration can field questions relating to the public guardian and trustee's role and how it may be beneficial to a client's individual situation. There are many laws that govern estate planning, and an experienced lawyer may be able to clear up some confusing areas. It is better to have the facts straight prior to planning an estate in order to avoid making estate planning mistakes.

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