The Public Trustee is the person appointed by the Provincial Government under the Public Trustee Act, 2009 to protect the financial assets and well-being of clients of the Office of the Public Trustee. Though appointed by the Provincial Government, the Office of the Public Trustee is a Crown corporation created by legislation and operates fully independent of Government.
Generally, clients of the Office of the Public Trustee are determined either by orders of the Court on application of a family member, or by legislation. Clients can include:
- children under the age of 19 (the age of majority in Newfoundland and Labrador),
- the Estate of a deceased person,
- mentally disabled persons,
- missing persons,
- a charitable trust.
Once appointed, the Public Trustee may perform any of the following duties:
- accept and carry out a trust, including a charitable trust;
- act as the administrator of estates or executor under a will;
- act as custodian of property of prisoners and missing persons;
- act as the guardian of the estate of mentally disabled persons under the authority of the Mentally Disabled Persons Estates Act;
- act as guardian in an action in court respecting the estate of a minor, a mentally disabled person or a deceased person;
- act as guardian of the estate of a minor committed to the continuous custody of a director under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act;
- where no person has been appointed guardian by the issue of letters of guardianship, act as guardian or custodian of the estate of a minor who has property or is entitled to property;
- act as an attorney under an enduring power of attorney.
The function of the Public Trustee can vary widely depending on the type client. In the case of the Estate of a deceased person, the Public Trustee will secure and gather all of the property and assets of the deceased person, determine what debts are owed to and by the Estate, and, if there are funds available in the Estate, pay all debts and distribute the balance of the Estate to the persons entitled as determined by the Will or by legislation.
In the case of children, the Public Trustee will hold funds in trust for that child until he or she reaches the age of 19, at which time the funds will be released to the child. Until the age of 19, where funds are required for the maintenance or education of the child, as determined by Court Order, a part of the funds can be released for those purposes.
For mentally disabled persons, the Public Trustee will look after and manage the day to day financial affairs of the person, including regular bills and accommodations. In the event that a Court determines that the person is well enough to again look after his or her own affairs all money and assets held by the Public Trustee for that person will be returned as quickly as possible.
The Public Trustee generally does not act in the capacity of guardian of the person, and so does not make decisions concerning a client’s medical care.
Further information concerning Estate Administration is available in this brochure (156 KB)
Office hours are Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (except 4:00 pm during summer months) and enquiries can be directed to:
Office of the Public Trustee
The Viking Building
Suite 401 – 136 Crosbie Road
St. John’s, NL A1B 3K3
Tel: (709) 729-0850
Fax: (709) 729-3063