What is guardianship and trusteeship and when is it required?

What happens when a loved one has reached the point in their life when they are no longer capable of making decisions for themselves? This does not just apply to seniors. This also applies to individuals who have become injured so much so that they no longer have the mental capacity to make sound decisions for themselves, whether financial or otherwise. It also applies to children who suffer from mental illness and are reaching the age of majority.

Where seniors or injured adults are concerned, in an ideal world, these individuals would have an Enduring Power of Attorney (for financial matters) or a Personal Directive (commonly referred to as a Living Will) (for personal and medical matters) prepared and in place. But we are not always living in an ideal world. And what about when a child suffering from a significant mental disability reaches the age of majority? On reaching the age of majority, his/her parent(s) no longer have the right to make decisions on his or her behalf.



So, what to do? How does one gain control/management of the affairs of a loved one in this position?

When there is no Enduring Power of Attorney or a Personal Directive in place or when a mentally disabled child reaches the age of majority, one must apply to the Court for an Order for Guardianship (giving you the authority to make personal, social and medical decisions for your loved one) or for an Order for Trusteeship (giving you the authority to manage your loved one’s financial affairs). Often, both are granted together in the form of an Order for Guardianship and Trusteeship, however, one can be granted without the other.

There are also instances where the adult is at the stage where they can still make some decisions if they have assistance in making them. In other words, the adult is not at the stage in life where they no longer have mental capacity to make decisions but are at the stage where he/she is more comfortable making decisions with your assistance. In a case such as this, the adult can nominate an individual to assist them with decision making relating to personal/medical matters or financial matters but the nominated individual does not have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the adult. This is called co-decision making and in this scenario, the nominated individual is given access to the adult’s personal information for the purpose of assisting the adult with decision making. The adult makes the decisions and the co-decision maker is tasked with carrying out the decisions of the adult.

How does the process work?

In all of these scenarios, the guiding authority is the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act (the Act) and under the Act, you have the ability to apply to the Court to obtain an Order granting you guardianship, trusteeship, both, or co-decision making authority.

When applying to the Court for an Order for Guardianship, Trusteeship or both, or for an Order for Co-Decision Making, you have two options. You can opt to apply to the Court directly which will entail appearing before a Justice to answer any questions the Justice may have prior to granting the Order. The benefit to this option is that you will likely receive the Order more quickly than the second option below. This option is preferred when you need to obtain an Order on an urgent basis or when there may be opposition to your application from other family members or interested parties. The drawback is that you will be required to appear at Court which can be anxiety provoking and stressful for you.


The second option is to apply by way of desk application.

A desk application essentially means that the documents are prepared and submitted to the Court for review and ultimate granting. This option is favourable when you know there is no opposition to you being appointed Guardian and/or Trustee, or Co-Decision Maker, and there is no urgency to obtaining the Order. Furthermore, there is no requirement to appear at Court before a Justice. The drawback, however, is that it takes longer to obtain the Order. In this scenario, the completed Application documents are forwarded to the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (the OPGT) for an initial review. Once the review is complete, an officer of the OPGT will meet with the adult, and will conduct reference and credit checks of the applicant prior to submitting the application documents to the Court for approval by a Justice who, based on the application documents and the recommendation of the OPGT, will make a final determination and either grant or reject the application for either guardianship, trusteeship or both.

We can help!

You have enough to deal with in caring for your loved one, let alone having to navigate the confusion of preparing application documents and either appearing at Court or dealing with the OPGT. We have expertise in preparing the application documents and will assist you in navigating either the Court process, if you wish to appear before the Court, or the OPGT. We will prepare and include the required wording to ensure that the Court process of granting the Order, whether it be for trusteeship, guardianship, both, or co-decision making, goes smoothly and we will act as your agent in liaising with the OPGT to answer any questions they may have. By taking on this task for you, it is our goal to give you peace of mind regarding legal aspect of guardianship and trusteeship, so that you can focus on caring for your loved one.

The first step in commencing this process is to obtain a Capacity Assessment Report of the individual in question from a physician, psychologist or healthcare professional having the qualifications and authority to complete such an assessment. The Capacity Assessment Report, together with information about the adult, you as applicant and other family members as well as your plans for guardianship, trusteeship or co-decision making, as the case may be, form part of the application documents that we will prepared on your behalf. This information is a requirement for obtaining an Order for either guardianship, trusteeship, both or co-decision making. Once the Capacity Assessment Report is obtained, we are able to prepare the required application documents for you and to assist with formulating the required plans for trusteeship, guardianship and/or co-decision making.

Fees for guardianship, trusteeship or co-decision making

We charge a flat fee of $2,700.00 plus GST and disbursements. This includes all aspects of obtaining an Order on your behalf from our initial meeting, to preparing the documents, to liaising with the OPGT, to preparing you to attend Court and to obtaining the Order. We reserve the right to increase our fee for highly complex applications.



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“My wife and I had a call with Christine for our Will and Power of Attorney. Christine is professional and fun to work with, she really made everything easy to understand and the meeting was a breeze!”