Frequently Asked Questions: Review of Grant Applications 

 

NOTE: This document is intended to provide general information ONLY regarding frequently asked estate administration questions and is not legal advice.  

General

 

1. What is “GARS”?

The Grant Application Review Services (GARS) team at the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) reviews applications for representation grants (including applications for probate of a will, a grant of administration, resealing of a foreign grant etc.) where the PGT is required to be served with notice under Rule 25-2 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules (“Rules of Court”).

If you have any questions which have not been answered by this document, please contact the GARS team at GARS@trustee.bc.ca.

2. Are GARS and Estates and Personal Trust Services (EPTS) different?

Yes. GARS reviews applications from third parties for representation grants and EPTS is the PGT department, which provides estate administration and personal trust services. For further information relating to EPTS and estate administration, see the EPTS home page or their FAQs.

3. Why does the PGT review applications for representation grants?

The Rules of Court direct that the PGT be given notice of representation grant applications in certain circumstances where a minor or an adult who is or may be incapable is entitled to notice. The PGT considers whether any action is required to safeguard the interests of minors and adults who are or may be mentally incapable, including but not limited to: 

  • the need for security during estate administration;
  • the need for and sufficiency of trust provisions in a will;
  • whether the minor or the adult is entitled to bring a claim against the estate including a will variation claim; or
  • whether there is a spousal home entitlement that affects the minor and/or incapable adult.

Where there is no will, or where someone other than a named executor has been appointed to administer the estate, the PGT may recommend an administration bond as a condition of obtaining a representation grant in order to protect a minor or incapable adult’s interest.  

Notice
  

1. When do I have to serve the PGT with notice of my application? 

Notice must be provided to the PGT if a person who is entitled notice is a minor (Rule 25-2(8) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules) or where a person entitled to notice is or may be incapable (Rule 25-2(11) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules). 

Notice is not required where all of the following apply:

  • the applicant is an executor (or alternate executor) named in the deceased’s will; and
  • the minor is not a spouse or child of the deceased; and

  • the will creates a trust for the interest of the minor in the estate; and

  • the will appoints a trustee for that trust (Rule 25-2(9) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules).

Where review by the PGT is required under the Rules of Court, the Court (via the probate registry) must not issue the representation grant unless the applicant provides the Court with the PGT’s written comments, or the Court is satisfied that it is necessary or appropriate to issue the representation grant before the PGT gives written comments (s.124 (1) Wills, Estate and Succession Act (WESA)). 

2. What do I need to provide to the PGT?

Initial notice to the PGT should include the following:

  • Notice of Proposed Application in Relation to Estate (Form P1);

  • Where there is one, a copy of any will (and any codicil(s), if applicable); 
  • PGT review fee see item 4 below; 
  • If the PGT is being provided with notice on behalf of a minor, the minor’s date of birth, address, and guardian information; and 
  • If the PGT is being provided with notice on behalf of an incapable adult, date of birth, resident address, nominee information (i.e. is there a Power of Attorney, Representative, etc.)

For more information about the forms required for the application process, see the Ministry of Justice website [https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/courthouse-services/documents-forms-records/court-forms/probate-forms] which contains PDF versions of all application forms. 

Note: Applicants cannot submit their application for estate grant to the Court until at least 21 days have elapsed since delivering notice of their intention to apply for an estate grant to the required recipients.

3. What happens after I send notice to the PGT?

A file is opened and assigned to a paralegal for review of the application. Further documents or information may be requested in order to complete the review. The specific documents required may vary but will always include all documents to be filed with the Court. The PGT will accept documents that have not yet been filed in the Court provided they are signed and notarized. After receiving the required documents and information, the assigned paralegal will review the application and provide written PGT comments to the Court.

4. What is the PGT’s fee for reviewing an application?

The fee is currently $315 ($300 plus 5% GST) per application, pursuant to BC Reg.312/2000. The fee should be provided when delivering the notice of intention to apply. For more information regarding fees, please see: http://www.trustee.bc.ca/fees/Pages/fees.aspx

Please send a cheque with your notice package, made out to the Public Guardian and Trustee. The PGT is unable to accept payment by credit or debit cards.

5. Where do I send notice?

Notice may be delivered in one of three ways:

  • By mail, addressed to “GARS” at: #700-808 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 3L3;
  • By fax, addressed to “GARS”, at: 604-775-2429; or 

6. My mom passed away and I was appointed the executor and trustee of her estate. I think her brother has dementia and I’m not sure if he qualifies as being mentally incapable. How do I know whether or not to provide notice to the PGT?

Rule 25-2 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules states that notice must be given to the PGT on behalf of an adult who is or may be mentally incompetent. Therefore, if you have reason to believe that your uncle may be mentally incompetent, you should provide notice to the PGT.

7. My dad passed away. His assets are in BC but there are incapable adult and minor beneficiaries who live in another province/country. Do I still have to serve the PGT?

Yes. Regardless of where the beneficiaries reside, if you are applying for a representation grant in BC you must provide notice to the PGT pursuant to the Rules of Court.

8. My dad passed away. His assets are entirely in another country or province but some minor beneficiaries named in his will live in BC. Do I still have to serve the PGT?

No. The PGT has no jurisdiction to review estates outside of BC, even where beneficiaries or intestate successors who are minors or incapable adults reside in BC.

PGT Comments
 

1. How long does it take to receive comments?

Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received. Once the PGT has received all of the required documents and information, PGT comments will be issued.

2. Can the PGT issue comments by email or fax?

No. As the applicant is required to file the original signed copy of the PGT comments with the Court as a part of their application, the PGT provides written comments by mail or, upon special request, will make them available for pick-up at our office:

Public Guardian and Trustee
#700 – 808 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 3L3

Other Assets of a Deceased Person
  

1. There are life insurance proceeds that are payable to a minor beneficiary. Do I have to send the proceeds to the PGT?

When a minor is the beneficiary of insurance funds, section 88 of the Insurance Act requires that the insurer notify the PGT. Whether or not those funds will be payable to the PGT depends on whether there has been a trustee appointed to hold the minor’s share of the insurance funds. Where a trustee has been appointed, the money is payable to the trustee in trust for the minor. An insurer who makes payment to a trustee must, within 30 days after the date of payment, give written notice to the PGT.

Where there is no trustee named to hold insurance money for a minor, these funds are payable to the PGT in trust to hold for the minor. When sending insurance money to be held in trust by the PGT for a minor, the following information is required:

  • Full legal name of the minor;
  • Minor’s date of birth;

  • Minor’s social insurance number;

  • Guardian’s full name, address, phone and email;

  • Beneficiary designation card, confirming the child as the beneficiary with no trustee named; and

  • Cheque payable to the “Public Guardian and Trustee, In Trust for [Minor’s full legal name].

2. I was appointed executor and trustee of my sister's estate. My sister had investments (RIF/RRSP/TFSA), for which she designated a beneficiary and therefore do not form part of her estate. She designated her minor son as a beneficiary of these funds but no trustee was named. Will the PGT accept and hold these funds?

Unlike life insurance proceeds, there is no legislation that appoints the PGT as default trustee of these types of funds.

If there is no trustee named and the value is $10,000 or under, the financial institution may consider delivering the minor’s interest to the minor’s guardian or to the minor pursuant to section 178 of the Family Law Act. If the amount is over $10,000, a person may apply under section 179 of the Family Law Act to be appointed by the Court as trustee of the funds.

Alternatively, the PGT may be willing to accept and hold the funds in a trust account for the minor(s) provided the financial institution agrees to release the funds to the PGT and the minor(s)’ guardians consent in writing to the following terms:

  • the funds will be held at the PGT and invested pursuant to PGT policy;
  • the funds will be held to age 19, subject to the PGT’s discretion under section 14 of the Infants Act to release funds prior to age 19. At age 19 the balance of the funds plus interest earned and less any PGT fees and commissions, will be paid to the minor; and

  • the PGT’s fees and commissions for our services are charged as set out in the Public Guardian and Trustee Fee Regulation.

Distribution of a Minor’s Share
  

1. I am the personal representative. I need to disburse estate funds to a minor beneficiary. There is no trust in the will. Can the PGT consent to release of the funds to the minor’s parent or guardian?

The PGT does not have the authority to consent to a personal representative paying a minor’s share of the estate to anyone who is not appointed as trustee. If there is no trustee or no trust created for a minor’s interest in an estate, the funds must be paid to the PGT in trust (section 153 (1) WESA). Alternatively, an application may be made to Court to appoint a trustee to hold the minor’s share (section 153(3) of WESA).

Estate Accounts
  

1. I am the personal representative. The administration of the estate is complete. Can the PGT approve my estate accounts?

For Minors

The PGT does not have any general statutory authority to review estate accounts on behalf of a minor beneficiary except where:

  • the PGT is property guardian for the minor; or
  • the Court has ordered the PGT to review the accounts.

Where the parent or guardian of a minor is in conflict the PGT will request that the accounts be passed before the Court.

The PGT has no authority to waive the passing of accounts on behalf of a minor beneficiary. The executor or administrator is under obligation to the beneficiaries and to the Court to conclude the affairs of the estate, which includes passing their accounts before the Court and having their remuneration approved by a Court. Executors or administrators will not be discharged from their duties until they have passed their accounts before the Court in accordance to section 99 of Trustee Act.

The PGT, acting as trustee under a will or under section 153 of WESA, accepts and acknowledges receipt of interim and/or final distributions payable to a minor beneficiary. However, acceptance of funds does not constitute a waiver of the obligation to pass the accounts of a personal representative.

For Incapable Adults

The PGT does not have any general statutory authority to review or to waive the accounts of executors or administrators on behalf of incapable intestate heirs and beneficiaries. The legal representative of the adult (committee, attorney, or representative) will be required to review the accounts.

The PGT will only review and consider waiving estate accounts on behalf of an incapable intestate heir or beneficiary where the PGT is acting as a legal representative for the adult. In these instances, estate accounts are to be reviewed by the adult’s case manager in our Services to Adults department. The personal representative will be advised of this process during the GARS review.

1. I was appointed executor and trustee of my sister’s estate. She named me as trustee for funds she left for her minor daughter (my niece). My niece is now an adult but I am worried about turning over her inheritance because she might use it inappropriately. What should I do? 

Trustees are obliged to follow the terms of the trust. You should obtain legal advice with respect to your obligations as trustee. Please refer to the list of resources detailed at the bottom of this FAQ page.

2. What can I do if I think that someone is mishandling the assets of an estate?

Under the Trustee Act, an executor or administrator is required to pass their accounts in Court within two years of receiving the representation grant or as early as one year from the date of the grant, if an intestate successor or beneficiary serves notice on the personal representative. Everyone with a financial interest in the estate is entitled to be present and raise any concerns at the Court hearing.

If the personal representative refuses to provide you with an accounting or to pass their accounts, you may apply to the Court for an order requiring the personal representative to do so. You will likely need a lawyer to assist you with this.

Other Frequently Asked Questions
  

1. What is a nominee?

Under WESA, a nominee is defined as:

If the PGT is served with an application on behalf of an incapable adult who has a nominee, we will require a copy of the document appointing the nominee.

2. My mother willed her estate to the care facility where she has been living for her last few years. Is this allowed?

Bequests or gifts to a licensee or employee of a facility governed by the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and the Hospital Act are void unless the PGT Services to Adults Division provides written consent to gift.

This ensures that the bequest is appropriate to the circumstances when the will was executed.

Anyone contemplating making a bequest to a licensee of a facility or its employees where they have been living should seek legal advice in making a will to ensure the bequest will be honoured.

Further information is available from the PGT’s website: Services to Adults>Other Protective Services, Review under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and the Hospital Act. Requests for the PGT’s consent to such gifts should be addressed to this department.

3. I don't have a lawyer. Where can I get help for wills and estate administration matters?

Some suggestions are:

Lawyer Referral Service - refer callers to a local lawyer. You can arrange a 1/2 hour initial consultation with a lawyer who specializes in wills and estates. Call: 604.687.3221 or 1.800.663.1919 | Mon - Fri, 8:30am to 5:00pm. 

UBC Law Students Legal Advice Program604.822.5791 UVIC The Law Centre250.385.1221

Justice Access Centres

ClickLaw

Court Services website - for information on probate documents or probate fees 

Court Services Online – search to determine if a particular estate has been administered in British Columbia There may be fees to view or receive the details or documents associated with a file. 

BC Vital Statistics Agency - to find out if the deceased registered a will or to obtain birth, death and marriage certificates 

Government of Canada, Estate planning, wills and dealing with death, to obtain information with respect to Canada Pension Plan benefits available to the estate, surviving spouse or children such as CPP retirement pension, CPP Death benefits, disability benefits and survivor benefits. 

Service BC - to obtain information on the provincial Funeral Services Program. Service BC will direct you to the local Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation office where you can ask for the "Funeral Services Program".