The Public Guardian and Trustee, as Official Administrator for the Province of British Columbia, administers estates of persons in BC who die with or without a will when an executor, family member or other eligible person either does not wish to or is unable to carry out the administration of the estate. The Estate & Personal Trust Services division handles estate administration services for the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.
With a Will
When a person dies and leaves a valid will, it is the responsibility of the executor named in the will, to handle funeral arrangements and administer the estate. If the executor cannot act and there is no one else willing and able to administer the estate, (such as an alternate executor or a beneficiary), the Public Guardian and Trustee may provide this service. The estate is administered and distributed according to the instructions set out in the will.
Without a Will
When a person dies without a will, the Estate Administration Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 122 establishes the people who have a right to administer the estate.
In order of priority they are:
- Spouses, providing the spouse:
- has not lived separate and apart from the deceased person for more than one year immediately before death, and
- includes a common law spouse (including a same gender spouse), providing the common law spouse has lived with the deceased person in a marriage like relationship for a period of at least 2 years immediately before death.
- Children, grandchildren (or a guardian on behalf of a minor)
- Children of predeceased siblings (nieces and nephews)
- Next of kin of equal degree of relationship.
Any one of the heirs to an estate can administer the estate with the consent of the other heirs. If there is no next of kin willing and able to handle this responsibility then the Public Guardian and Trustee as Official Administrator for British Columbia may administer the estate. The Public Guardian and Trustee will not usually administer estates with assets less than $5,000.
Administering an Estate
Administering an estate is a lengthy process with many steps. These steps include:
- Making funeral arrangements,
- Identifying, securing and dealing with assets,
- Obtaining letters probate (where there is a will) or letters of administration from the court,
- Identifying and paying valid debts and claims against the estate
- Filing tax returns,
- Dealing with any legal issues that arise, and
- Identifying, locating and distributing the balance of the estate to the rightful heirs and/or beneficiaries.
The Public Guardian and Trustee aims to provide impartial and professional service during the administration of an estate. Each estate is handled in accordance with established policies and procedures, including strict controls over how assets are secured, evaluated and disposed. Funds held within estate trust accounts by the Public Guardian and Trustee earn daily interest.
The Estate & Personal Trust Services division has service commitments for important milestones in the administration of estates and a commitment to notify heirs and beneficiaries if any of these steps are not able to be completed within the expected timeframe. To review these service commitments, please click on one of the following links: Service Commitments in English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Ukrainian, Chinese Simplified or Chinese Traditional.
Upon completion of the administration of the estate, the Public Guardian and Trustee will send a comprehensive accounting package to the heirs or beneficiaries. We will distribute the estate to the heirs and beneficiaries within three (3) weeks of receipt of all executed releases and completion of all tax work including the receipt of the final Tax Clearance Certificate. Heirs and beneficiaries will be allowed to specify a preferred means of payment such as: electronic funds transfer to financial institutions within Canada, wire transfers to financial institutions outside Canada, bank drafts or regular cheques. Before any funds can be deposited to a bank account belonging to an heir or beneficiary, the PGT must receive the completed authorization form.
For Canadian heirs or beneficiaries, a copy of the electronic funds transfer (EFT) to a financial institution within Canada authorization form can be obtained by clicking one of the following links: EFT English or EFT French.
For international heirs or beneficiaries, a copy of the wire authorization form to international financial institution can be obtained by clicking one of the following links: International Wire Authorization in English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Ukrainian, Chinese Simplified or Chinese Traditional.
Referrals to Estate & Personal Trust Services
Executors, heirs and beneficiaries wanting to refer an estate to Estate & Personal Trust Services are encouraged to contact our office and speak with an Estate & Personal Trust Services' Duty Officer prior to submitting a referral. Service providers such as Coroner's Office, hospitals, health authorities and RCMP wanting to submit a referral can fax the referral directly to 604.660.0964.
To obtain an online referral form for Estate & Personal Trust Services, please click here.
Naming the Public Guardian and Trustee as your Executor
The Public Guardian and Trustee can also be named as the executor in a will. Individuals interested in naming the Public Guardian and Trustee as executor in their will should contact Estate & Personal Trust Services to inquire about this service prior to executing their will. Toll free calling is available through Service BC. After dialing the appropriate number for your area (below), request to be transferred to the PGT (regular office hours 8:30am-4:30pm, Mon-Fri).
- Vancouver 604.660.2421
- Victoria 250.387.6121
- Elsewhere 800.663.7867
Our Fees as Executor or Administrator
The PGT charges estate administration fees as set by regulation when acting as an executor or administrator of an estate.
To review the fee schedule as executor for an estate, please click here.
To review the fee schedule as administrator for an estate, please click on one of the following links: Fee Schedule as an Administrator in English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Ukrainian, Chinese Simplified or Chinese Traditional.