An adult who is incompetent or lacks capacity may be exploited by others or may endanger his or her own financial welfare. The Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) works to protect vulnerable adults’ property and can investigate allegations of financial abuse.
The PGT has the authority, under The Public Guardian and Trustee Act, to investigate where it has reasonable grounds to believe that a person is vulnerable and is:
- being subjected to financial abuse by another person; or
- likely to suffer a serious financial loss or damage because the vulnerable person is unable to make reasonable financial decisions.
A vulnerable person is anyone 16 years of age or older who has an illness, impairment, disability or aging process limitation that places the individual at risk of financial abuse.
In the course of its investigation, the PGT has the power to freeze the vulnerable person’s bank accounts and demand documents from third parties.
If an attorney under a power of attorney or a property guardian is suspected of financial abuse, the PGT can demand an accounting from that individual. An accounting is a detailed written outline, sworn under oath, of all of actions taken and decisions made on behalf of the vulnerable adult.
Before contacting the PGT with your concerns, talk to other family members, friends, neighbours, financial institutions, health care professionals or caregivers to find out what they think of the vulnerable adult’s situation.
You may also want to report your concerns to your local police service or the RCMP; financial abuse can be a criminal act.