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The Difference Between a Guardianship and Trusteeship Order

Many adults across Alberta are not in a position to make their own decisions regarding their personal and financial matters. In instances like these, the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act (AGTA) permits family members and concerned parties to apply for a Guardianship or Trusteeship Order to ensure that their loved ones are not compromised or taken advantage of.

Because they both support the care and protection of a vulnerable loved one, Guardianship and Trusteeship Orders are often regarded as one and the same. But, they are actually two separate processes, and the differences are explained in detail below.

Guardianship Orders

These orders are appropriate when a family member or loved one loses their mental capacity and can no longer manage their own affairs. A Guardianship Order will give another person (usually, although not always, a family member) the authority to make personal decisions on their behalf. These decisions include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical treatment and healthcare
  • Where the person may live, as well as with whom and under what conditions
  • Participation in social activities, education, and vocational training
  • Employment terms and conditions

If you are concerned about the possibility of diminished decision-making in the future, you may opt for a Personal Care Directive (PCD), which allows you to provide healthcare instructions in advance to a chosen agent and can spare your family the time and stress of going through the guardianship process.

Trusteeship

Trusteeship Orders give someone authority over a dependent adult’s financial affairs, which include all property the person owns.

  • Land and buildings
  • Personal and household effects including jewelry
  • Cash and bank accounts
  • Real estate
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Registered savings and other investments

Trustees, who may have either broad or limited powers, must include a trusteeship plan when they apply for an order and may be called upon for a review and accounting over the decisions they have made. If you get an Enduring Power of Attorney prior to losing capacity, your family may be able to avoid the trusteeship process entirely.

Both Guardianship and Trusteeship Orders require that a Capacity Assessment Report be carried out by a designated professional. This report will provide the court with important information about the person’s mental capacity, their ability to make their own decisions, and the likelihood that they will improve. The Public Guardian and Public Trustee reviews each application before it is presented to the Court, and family members have the opportunity to contest it.

For more information about how to obtain a Guardianship or Trusteeship Order to protect a vulnerable loved one, contact Estate Connection today. 

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