Many people who have been appointed committees of a
patient's estate wonder what their rights and duties are in
that role. Some people believe that they are obligated to
preserve the patient's assets exactly as they were at the time
of their appointment while others believe that they are entitled to
alter the state of the patient's assets, selling them or
changing title, to meet the patient's needs. So the
question, is who is right? The answer is, it depends on
Section 18 of the Patients Property Act provides
that a committee must exercise his or her powers for the
"benefit of the patient and the patient's family, having
regard to the nature of the value of the property of the patient
and the circumstances and needs of the patient and the
patient's family." The Courts in British Columbia
have interpreted this to mean that a committee is obligated to act
with ordinary prudence, demonstrating honesty, with the standard of
care which would be shown by the reasonable and prudent business
person keeping the needs of the patient as paramount importance in
all decisions which are made.
What is considered to be reasonable and prudent turns almost
entirely upon the unique set of facts that apply to each
In certain instances, if a patient has an expressed but
unfulfilled intentions that would be to the benefit of the patient
or the patient's family, it is reasonable for the committee to
carry out these wishes provided that the patient's own
interests are being fulfilled as the interests of the patient are
preferred to the interests of the patient's family.
Depending on the circumstances, actions which have been
sanctioned by the Court include the setting up of trusts for the
patient's family, the sale of the patient's assets,
commencement of litigation on behalf of the patient, severance in
the joint tenancy of a bank account and severance in the joint
tenancy of a home.
In the end, the ultimate consideration by the Court is whether
the reasonable and prudent business person would have concluded
that the committee acted in a reasonable fashion. With this
said, it is always recommended that a committee obtain
professional advice before altering the state of a patient's
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
It is not uncommon for parents to provide monetary gifts to their adult children. Parents may wish to help their child with a down payment on a property, or help pay out their child's existing mortgage.
On March 31, 2014, BC's new Wills, Estates and Succession Act1 ("WESA") will come into force. WESA introduces new protections for beneficiaries of estates that are in danger of being disputed or deemed ineffective by a court.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).