Who should be committee – a family member, a friend or the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC?

  • Normally a family member will be preferred.
  • The best interests of the patient will always be considered when deciding who to appoint.
  • The Public Guardian and Trustee may be appointed in cases of family conflict, or where there is a concern that the applicant might not act in the best interests of the patient.

We represented the mother of a 37 year old woman who suffered brain damage after a car crash.  The patient had received a substantial award for her injuries when she was 18, and the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) became the committee of her estate (i.e. the money).  Her mother acted as the committee of her person (i.e. able to make decisions about the patient’s living arrangements, health care, etc.) but later it was discovered that her appointment was void because it was made while the patient was still a minor. 

The mother applied to be appointed as committee of the person, with Canada Trust appointed as committee of the estate.  The PGT eventually agreed to the appointment of Canada Trust, but opposed the appointment of the mother, claiming that the patient was capable of making her own decisions.  This was based in part on the fact that the patient had a child, and had been married for a short while.  Over the years the relationship between the mother and the PGT had broken down, mostly over monetary issues. 

The judge appointed the mother as the committee of the person.  He accepted that the mother might be difficult to deal with, but most people who believe passionately about things can be “difficult” from the perspective of others who are distanced from the problem and not as committed to resolving it.  He characterized the evidence put forward by the PGT as prudish, puritanical, smug and devoid of any appreciation as to the difficulties of managing the patient on a daily basis.  He accepted the evidence that the patient was severely brain damaged and in need of a committee.  The mother was not only the best person for that role, but really the only person who could properly discharge that onerous role.

If you need to be appointed as Committee, we can help.  Contact us.

Read the case:  Atchison v. Carlson

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