In certain situations, the Public Trustee will manage a deceased person's estate.
An estate is what a person owns, such as money, life insurance, land, vehicles, stocks, bonds, jewellery, personal possessions, and household effects. The estate also includes items that may be owing to a person when they die, such as final wages, income tax refunds, and Canada Pension Plan contributions.
The Public Trustee will generally only accept administration of estates where:
- the only beneficiaries are children;
- the beneficiary is a spouse and a senior citizen (over the age of 65); or
- the beneficiary is mentally incapable; or
- there are significant assets and no next of kin can be found.
In other circumstances, the next of kin should contact a lawyer to assist them in the administration of an estate.
The Public Trustee can only help when the estate fits the above criteria and:
- a deceased person stated in a will that the Public Trustee was to administer the estate;
- a person dies without a will and there is no one else looking after the estate; or
- the next of kin of the deceased state, in writing, that they consent to the appointment of the Public Trustee as administrator and that they have searched but are unable to find a will of the deceased.
In the event that an estate passes to a minor, it may be held in trust until the age of majority is reached.
Generally outside of Yellowknife, the Public Trustee may rely upon the Government Service Officers - especially in cases where a person is seeking assistance in an aboriginal language.