Legal Aid

PUBLIC TRUSTEE SERVICES

 

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The Public Trustee of New Brunswick protects the financial and personal interests of the elderly, the mentally challenged, children, missing or deceased persons, when there is no one else able and willing to do so. 

 The Public Trustee can be appointed to:


Act to make personal, healthcare, legal, or financial decisions for someone who is mentally incapable and cannot make those decisions.

In general, the Public Trustee tries to manage a client's assets so the client's independence and abilities are best respected. The Public Trustee works hard to ensure that current needs are balanced against long term requirements.

Trust Services

The core responsibilities of the Public Trustee include handling money and financial assets, paying bills, issuing funds for clients’ purchases after reviewing the necessity for items requested. The Public Trustee also completes income and estate tax documentation and manages funds and property transactions on behalf of clients.

To the extent of a client’s ability to pay, the client’s financial obligations are met by the Public Trustee from the client’s own financial resources.  The Public Trustee will establish debt management activities if necessary and take the appropriate action to ensure repayments of debt using a client’s assets so creditors are satisfied with the arrangements made.

Guardianship

When the Public Trustee acts as personal guardian it may be necessary to make healthcare decisions of a highly personal nature on behalf of clients. This can mean making a decision as to where and with whom a client will live or providing informed consent to medical treatments.  It may also become necessary to make funeral arrangements for clients who have no known family. Each client’s case is managed individually and decisions are made based on the client’s best interest.

The Public Trustee consults with the client, and with experts, family and friends to obtain as much relevant information as possible before making a decision.  This helps ensure decisions are made as per the individual’s wishes and personal beliefs wherever possible.

 

Act on behalf of an individual in accordance with the terms of a power of attorney.

The Public Trustee may be appointed attorney for personal care or attorney in accordance with the terms of a power of attorney.  If you are considering appointing the Public Trustee as your attorney under the terms of a power of attorney, please contact us to discuss whether the Public Trustee is an appropriate choice.  The Public Trustee needs to give written consent before being named as attorney in accordance with the terms of a power of attorney.


 

Act as an executor under a Will or as an administrator of the property of a deceased person.

When a resident of New Brunswick dies without someone who is willing and/or able to be responsible for administering the estate, it may become necessary for the Public Trustee to act on behalf of the deceased individual. Arrangements may have been made by the individual prior to death in the form of a Will naming the Public Trustee as an executor.  If not the Public Trustee can apply to the Court to act on behalf of the deceased.

When a person dies with a will:
When a person dies, an Application may have to be made to Court for Letters of Probate which enable distribution of the estate in accordance with a valid Will. An individual may name the Public Trustee as executor of his/her Will.  The Public Trustee holds a copy of the Will and takes the appropriate action when informed about the individual’s death.

When a person dies without a will:
When a person dies without a Will, the Public Trustee may be appointed by the Courts to administer the estate and to attempt to locate heirs and distribute any assets in accordance with the Devolution of Estates Act (this Act sets out who will inherit a person’s estate if there is no Will).

When a client of the Public Trustee dies:
When a client of the Public Trustee dies, we continue to manage the client’s property until notification is received that an executor or administrator has been appointed. 

The Public Trustee makes a thorough search for a Will, including advertising in newspapers if necessary, checking with the client’s relatives, friends, lawyers, or anyone else who may have knowledge of a Will or its whereabouts.  If a valid Will is found and an executor is appointed by the Courts, the Public Trustee will pay over all of the client’s assets to the executor, who will then deal with them in accordance with the Will. 

If a client dies without a valid Will and if no one is willing and able to act on behalf of the individual, the Public Trustee may apply to the Court to administer the estate and distribute assets. The Public Trustee conducts a search for legitimate heirs.


 

Act to make legal or financial decisions for an individual declared to be an absentee under the Presumption of Death Act.

When a person is declared to be an absentee the Public Trustee may be required to act as a Trustee of their estate.



 

Act to protect an individual's financial interests if appointed by a court.

For example, when a child receives a life insurance settlement or money from an estate and there is no one available to manage that money, the Public Trustee can be called upon to make investment decisions and to manage the money on behalf of the child.

 
 
The Public Trustee cannot become involved in mediating family disputes or investigate cases of financial abuse. However, appropriate referrals will be made as necessary.



How to Apply

Any individual can make a referral to the Public Trustee. Referrals for Public Trustee Services are made in writing through the completion of an Application for Services.