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Public Guardianship Application – Ontario

Public guardianship application in Ontario.

Not everyone has someone who can care for them as they age. Alzheimer’s disease, a debilitating accident or developmental disability can make it difficult to communicate your care needs or personal wishes. 

Making financial decisions about investments or even paying monthly utility bills can be taxing when you face challenges understanding what others around you are doing or saying and why.

When adults need assistance managing health care or financial matters and have no one to help, the Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) can step in. A court or the OPGT itself can arrange a guardianship application for Ontario adults who lack the mental capacity to care for themselves.

What Are Guardianship Applications?

Public guardians represent someone who is already mentally incapable. They are appointed when an adult who doesn't have a power of attorney for personal care or property (POA) requires an ongoing advocate for their interests. 

You may know guardians as substitute decision makers. Like a POA, they make decisions in place of someone who is unable to carry on from day to day without assistance. Unlike a POA, they are made after an adult is unable to express their own personal preferences for health care services, medical treatment, housing and personal care. 

What Mental Incapacity Means

Most of us take day-to-day personal hygiene, health care or financial decisions for granted. Not being able to connect the dots by understanding what to do next or the consequences of inaction is frightening. 

Adults who are "mentally incapable" have trouble grasping information. They may hear what you are saying, but not be able to make sense of it. Personality changes caused by serious head injuries make it difficult for formerly competent adults to manage. Sudden trouble focusing,  vision problems, anxiety or aggression are confusing and frustrating.

Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can develop at any age. Like head injuries, brain diseases place adults at risk of being financially exploited or becoming disoriented in once-familiar surroundings like their own home.

Adults with complex developmental disabilities may need someone to manage every aspect of their lives. When their parents or siblings are gone, they may be left without anyone to safeguard their interests.

4 Steps to Assessing Mental Capacity

If you're worried someone has become mentally incapable, you can:

  1. Ask doctors or independent capacity assessors with mental health training to assist you.  
  2. Schedule a mental capacity assessment.
  3. If a doctor or assessor issues a certificate of incapacity, complete guardianship application forms.
  4. Go to court or request statutory guardianship through the OPGT.

Axess Law has experienced family lawyers near you who can draft forms to arrange guardianship through the OPGT. We can help organize the documents you need to become a legal guardian yourself or work with the OPGT to appoint a representative for a friend or loved one. 

Paying for Capacity Assessments

Most capacity assessors charge hourly rates. If your guardianship application is successful, their fee and other legal costs can be charged to the person you are assisting. The OPGT sometimes helps with costs for low-income clients.

Applying to replace the OPGT as statutory guardian costs $382 plus tax, payable to the OPGT. If you apply to a court for guardianship, the OPGT will charge $250 to review your application and give its opinion to the court and other parties' lawyers.

Appealing a Capacity Decision

When the OPGT receives an application for a capacity assessment, they consult with the person being assessed. Courts also require applicants to inform the person and explain what a capacity assessment is. Adults have a right to participate in the court application and be represented by a lawyer. Adults found incapable can apply for an independent review. 

Guardianship can be ended if:

  • The Ontario Consent and Capacity Board overturns the finding.
  • A court terminates it.
  • A capacity assessor or doctor at a psychiatric facility determines they are no longer incapable.
  • Upon their death.
  • When a guardian resigns, becomes incapable or dies.

Can Anyone Be Legal Guardian?

Anyone over 18 with a close and trusting relationship can apply to be named  guardian for a mentally incapable adult. Applications from concerned friends or advocates are invited by courts, which can appoint guardians to replace POAs. The OPGT can also appoint consenting relatives, spouses or partners to assist its office with personal care and property (financial) decisions. 

Provided the person doesn't object to a capacity assessment or already have a POA in place, your offer of assistance may be a welcome relief. Axess Law's licensed family lawyers can explain what's involved in developing a plan to manage income, assets, expenses and debts while acting as legal guardian of property.

A guardianship application for Ontario child is a separate procedure. Axess Law's Wills and estate lawyers can assist you to appoint guardians for minor children in a personal Will.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Axess Law's Ontario family lawyers prepare legal documents to apply for statutory guardianship for adults who need assistance from a public guardian. We complete forms and discuss your responsibilities in speaking to a court or the OPGT to advocate for an adult who is mentally incapable of managing their own personal or business affairs. 

We advise concerned friends or family members if you suspect a loved one is being unduly influenced, bullied or coerced to sign documents they don't comprehend. We counsel next-of-kin on filing complaints if you feel the OPGT or a guardian is mishandling financial decisions or assets. 

You leave our offices with the legal documents needed to make an application for legal guardianship under the Substitute Decisions Act. Our low cost flat fees are affordable and we can deliver documents to you by courier or using secure, online document signing technologies.  

Book Online Appointments 7 Days a Week

Have concerns someone you care about needs help? Ask us for a free quote for guardianship planning. Dial our 1-647-479-0118 lawyer line or use our easy online booking form to make an appointment for a remote video conference call. Drop into any of our Greater Toronto Area law offices nearby you for an in person consultation. Our family lawyers are available 7 days a week, day or evening, at times that fit your schedule.

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