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Guardianship and Trusteeship

Many of us will eventually need help making decisions and managing our affairs.  Alberta’s legislation divides these decisions into two areas:  Financial (Trusteeship) and Non-Financial (Guardianship.)  Normally these roles will be undertaken by a family member or trusted friend.  However, the Office of the Public Trustee and the Office of the Public Guardian may be appointed if needed.

A variety of options are available to meet your needs.  These include informal arrangements, legal documents planned in advance by the represented adult and court-appointments.

Financial Decisions

Personal Decisions

Informal Informal Trusteeship Advance Care Planning
Advance Planning Enduring Power of Attorney Personal Directive
Court Appointed Court Ordered Trusteeship Guardianship

Financial Decision Making

Office of the Public Trustee
The Office of the Public Trustee protects the financial interests of vulnerable Albertans by administering the estates of dependent adults, deceased persons and minors when there is no one else to act.  The Public Trustee is appointed by the Alberta Government under the Public Trustee Act.  The Public Trustee’s policy is to step in only where it is necessary or appropriate to do so to protect the financial interests of vulnerable Albertans.

Informal Trusteeship
People who suffer from a mental disability may need help managing their finances. The amount of assistance they need depends on their disability, what needs to be managed and who is willing and able to assist them.  If the disabled person doesn’t have a lot of assets and only needs help managing a monthly government cheque, trusteeship can be arranged with the government department issuing the cheque. This type of trusteeship is commonly called informal trusteeship and it has several advantages.

Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney allows you to prepare for a time when you may become ill or suffer a disability and, as a result, become unable to manage your own financial and legal affairs. An Enduring Power of Attorney also allows you to appoint an attorney to manage certain (or all) of your financial affairs now and will continue even if you become mentally incapacitated.   Upon death, Enduring Power of Attorney ends and the attorney must then account for all of the donor’s property and report to the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.

Court Ordered Trusteeship
When a person with a mental disability is unable to look after their own financial affairs, it may be necessary for a trustee to be appointed – this is sometimes called a Formal Trusteeship.  A Trustee and is appointed by the Court and “entrusted” with the power to manage someone else’s property, money and income and perform many duties for the person in need.  A Trustee can be a person, trust company, or the Public Trustee.

Non-Financial Decision Making

Office of the Public Guardian
The Office of the Public Guardian provides decision-making mechanisms for individuals who are unable to make personal, non-financial decisions for themselves.  They do this through the Personal Directives Act, the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act, and the Mental Health Act.  They also administer the Personal Directives Registry and the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Registry.

Advance Care Planning for Future Health Care Decisions
It is difficult to think about a time when we may not be able to communicate our wishes. If the time came, and someone had to tell your health care team what you would want them to do, would your family or close friends know what kind of care you would want?  Do those close to you know what is important to you regarding health care?

Personal Directives
Personal Directives are legal documents which allow you to name a decision maker and/or provide written instructions to be followed when, due to illness or injury, you no longer have the capacity to make decisions such as where you live or the medical treatment you will receive.

Personal Directives Registry
Albertans can voluntarily register their personal directive at no cost.

A Guardian is a court appointed substitute decision-maker who may make decisions for the represented adult in some or all areas of personal decision-making except for financial matters.

This is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as current.  Contact the government offices listed above and your own legal representatives.