Fire Victim Trust

Frequently Asked Questions


Fire Victim Claims - Generally


30. What types of claims will the Fire Victim Trust consider?

The Claims Resolution Procedures (available here) outline seven types of claims that Fire Victims can submit: (1) Real Property, (2) Personal Property, (3) Personal Income Loss, (4) Business Loss, (5) Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses, (6) Wrongful Death and Personal Injury, and (7) Emotional Distress. In addition to these categories, the Trust will review all other submitted claims and consider all damages and costs recoverable under California law or, if applicable, other non-bankruptcy law.


31. May I sell or assign my Fire Victim Claim?

A claim that was sold or assigned before June 20, 2020 will be recognized and processed as if the assignee was the original holder of the claim. Otherwise, subject to certain limited exceptions, the Order Confirming the Plan of Reorganization and the Trust Agreement prohibit the sale or assignment of a Fire Victim Claim from and after June 20, 2020.

 

The exceptions to the prohibition on sale or assignment are:

 

  • Claims transferred by will or by intestate succession upon the death of the Fire Victim;
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  • Claims transferred by operation of law; and
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  • Claims transferred by a Fire Victim to its successor by merger, consolidation or by purchase of substantially all the assets of the Fire Victim.


32. Do I need to complete a new form to submit my claims to the Fire Victim Trust?

Yes. Claimants must complete a Claims Questionnaire, which will include sections for you to provide or update demographic information and information about your claim(s). You can complete the Claims Questionnaire and upload supporting documents by logging into your online Portal.


33. What is the deadline to submit a Claims Questionnaire?

The deadline to submit a Claims Questionnaire was February 26, 2021.


34. How do I sign a completed Claims Questionnaire in my Portal?

If you are a lawyer:

 

In the Signature module of the Claims Questionnaire, follow the instructions to email each client to provide an electronic signature. All Claimants must have a signature before the Claims Questionnaire can be submitted to the Fire Victim Trust for processing. Click the Send button to enter the client’s email address and you may use the same email address multiple times.

 

If you are a Claimant who is not represented by a lawyer:

 

In the Signature module of the Claims Questionnaire, click the E-Sign button next to each Claimant’s name to provide an electronic signature. All Claimants must have a signature before the Claims Questionnaire can be submitted to the Fire Victim Trust for processing.


35. Which Fire Victims need a Representative to act on their behalf, and what does the Representative do?

Fire Victims that are a trust or business must identify an Authorized Representative. Fire Victims who are minors, deceased/estate, or incapacitated adults must identify a Legal Representative. Representatives act on the Fire Victims' behalf, including accepting any offer, signing Releases, and receiving payment.


36. How do I add an Authorized Representative for a Fire Victim who is a trust or business?

You must identify an Authorized Representative for all Claimants who are a trust or business. You can add an Authorized Representative through the Claimant Details Screen on your Portal. Click the Edit Claimant Details button, then select the appropriate Claimant Type from the dropdown menu. The option to Add Representative will become available.


37. Who may act as Authorized Representative for a Claimant that is a trust, and what documents must they submit to the Fire Victim Trust to support their authority?

To support their authority to act as Authorized Representative to a Claimant that is a trust-including accepting any offer, signing Releases, and receiving payment-a party must (1) be a trustee of that trust, and (2) submit trust documents showing as such, which may include the signed trust instrument, Grant Deed naming the trustees and the trust, or a certification of trust. If none of these documents can be produced, please contact the Claims Processor.


38. Who may act as an Authorized Representative for a business entity, and what documents must they submit to the Fire Victim Trust to support their authority?

A single owner or other duly authorized agent may act as Authorized Representative for a Claimant that is a business entity-including accepting any offer, signing Releases, and receiving payment. The type of documents required to support a party's authority to act on behalf of the business entity Claimant depends on the party's relationship to the business entity Claimant, but can include the following:

 

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Articles of Organization
  • Certificate of Organization
  • Bylaws
  • Operating Agreements
  • Corporate Resolutions
  • Shareholder Lists
  • Partnership Agreements
  • An EIN Assignment Letter from the IRS addressed to a “responsible party,” as defined by the IRS, for the business entity
  • Other documents to support legal ownership


39. How do I add a Representative Claimant for a Fire Victim who is a minor or has become deceased or incapacitated?

You must identify a Legal Representative for all Claimants who are currently a minor, an incapacitated adult, or deceased. You can add a Representative Claimant through the Claimant Details Screen on your Portal. Click the Edit Claimant Details button, then select the appropriate Individual Claimant Type from the dropdown menu. The option to Add Representative will become available, as will date of death, when appropriate.


40. Who is considered a Minor Claimant?

Minor Claimant means an individual Fire Victim who is under 18 years of age and has not been emancipated by a court declaration of emancipation. We consider the Claimant's age at the date of signing of each document (i.e., the Claims Questionnaire or Release) or at the time of payment, not on the date of the Fire or related damage or injury. This means that if a Minor Claimant reaches the age of majority (turns 18) during the pendency of their claim, the parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem is no longer their Legal Representative. Instead, the Claimant will act on his or her own behalf from that time forward.


41. Who may act as Legal Representative for a minor Claimant, and what documents must they submit to the Trust to support their authority?

A parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem of a minor child may act as Legal Representative for a minor Claimant. The type of document required to support a party's authority to act as Legal Representative to a minor Claimant-including accepting any offer, signing Releases, and receiving payment-depends on the party's relation to the Claimant, but can include the following:

 

  • Birth Certificate or Baptismal Certificate. A birth certificate or baptismal certificate identifying the Legal Representative as parent of the minor Claimant.
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  • Custody or Adoption Records. A copy of an adoption or custody order or similar custody records identifying the Legal Representative as parent or legal custodian of the minor Claimant.
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  • Local Court Appointment. A copy of a court order, letters of guardianship, letters of conservatorship, certification, or other document issued by a court or other appropriate official and appointing the Legal Representative as guardian, conservator, curator, personal representative, or other position with authority to act on behalf of the minor Claimant.
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  • Legal Representative Declaration. A completed copy of Legal Representative Declaration (available here) supporting their authority to act on behalf of a Minor Claimant.
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  • Additional Legal Representative Proof Documents. Additional documents may be accepted as Legal Representative Proof Documents only if the Special Master approves or as authorized by the District Court.


42. When is a Guardian ad litem required?

If a Minor Claimant or Incapacitated Claimant is not represented by counsel, a guardian ad litem must be appointed to act on the Claimant's behalf. Click here to access the fillable PDF guardian ad litem form.


43. Who may act as Legal Representative for a deceased/estate Claimant, and what documents must they submit to the Trust to support their authority?

An executor or administrator of the decedent's estate or, if none has been appointed, the decedent's successor-in-interest may act as Legal Representative for a deceased/estate Claimant. The type of document required to support a party's authority to act as Legal Representative to a deceased/estate Claimant-including accepting any offer, signing Releases, and receiving payment-depends on the party's relation to the Claimant, but can include the following:

 

  • Local Court Appointment. Documents supporting that the Legal Representative has been ordered by a local court to act as the representative of a deceased Claimant. For example, a copy of a court order, letters of administration, letters testamentary, or other document issued by a court or other appropriate official and appointing the Legal Representative as personal representative, administrator, executor, or other position with authority to act on behalf of the deceased Claimant.
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  • Successor in Interest Declaration. A deceased Claimant’s successor in interest(s) may submit a declaration or affidavit to support the Legal Representative’s authority if no probate administration is pending or required. The affidavit must meet the requirements of Cal. Prob. Code § 377.32, including being accompanied by a copy of the decedent’s death certificate. The heir(s) also must submit documents supporting their relationship to the decedent.
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  • Small Estate Affidavit. A deceased Claimant’s legal heir(s) or other successors in interest may submit a small estate affidavit to support a Legal Representative’s authority if: (1) more than forty days have elapsed since the decedent’s death; (2) the decedent’s estate, including any awards from the Trust, does not exceed $166,250; and (3) and no probate administration is pending or required. The affidavit must meet the requirements of Cal. Prob. Code § 13101, including being accompanied by a copy of the decedent’s death certificate. The heir(s) also must submit documents supporting their relationship to the decedent.
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  • Last Will and Testament. A copy of a deceased Claimant’s properly executed will identifying the Legal Representative as the executor of the deceased Claimant’s estate. The will must be accompanied by a copy of a deceased Claimant’s death certificate.
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  • Additional Legal Representative Proof Documents. Additional documents may be accepted as Legal Representative Proof Documents only if the Special Master approves or as authorized by the District Court.


44. Who is considered an Incapacitated Claimant?

An Incapacitated Claimant is a person who lacks the capacity to make a decision unless the person has the ability to communicate verbally, or by any other means, the decision, and to understand and appreciate, to the extent relevant, all of the following: (a) the rights, duties, and responsibilities created by, or affected by the decision; (b) the probable consequences for the decisionmaker, and, where appropriate, the persons affected by the decision; and (c) the significant risks, benefits, and reasonable alternatives involved in the decision.

 

We presume all adult Claimants have legal capacity to act on their own behalf unless presented with information or documents clearly indicating the Claimant meets the criteria. The mere fact that a Claimant has executed a power of attorney agreement (“POA”), including a durable or springing POA, does not mean that a Claimant is incapacitated.


45. Who may act as Legal Representative for an incapacitated adult Claimant, and what documents must they submit to the Trust to support their authority?

A guardian or conservator or, if none has been appointed, an agent authorized in a durable or springing power of attorney agreement may act as a Legal Representative for an incapacitated adult Claimant. The type of document required to support a party's authority to act as Legal Representative to an incapacitated adult Claimant-including accepting any offer, signing Releases, and receiving payment-depends on the party's relation to the Claimant, but can include the following:

 

  • Local Court Appointment. A copy of a court order, letters of guardianship, letters of conservatorship, certification, or other document issued by a court or other appropriate official and appointing the Legal Representative as guardian, conservator, curator, personal representative, or other position with authority to act on behalf of the incapacitated adult Claimant.
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  • Durable Power of Attorney. A durable or springing power of attorney submitted by a Legal Representative acting on behalf of an incapacitated adult Claimant.
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  • Legal Representative Declaration. A completed copy of Legal Representative Declaration (available here) supporting their authority to act on behalf of an incapacitated adult Claimant.
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  • Additional Legal Representative Proof Documents. Additional documents may be accepted as Legal Representative Proof Documents only if the Special Master approves or as authorized by the District Court.


46. What additional considerations apply for payment to minors and incapacitated adult Fire Victims?

To protect their interests, the Special Master must review and approve the Claims Determinations and disbursement measures for all awards to minors and incapacitated adults before the Trust may issue payment. As part of this process, the Special Master will review the Determination Notice and claim awards after acceptance, as well as documentation supporting the Legal Representative’s authority to act on the minor’s or incapacitated adult’s behalf.


47. What happens if a Fire Victim submitted a Proof of Claim on or before 12/31/19 but died before submitting a Claims Questionnaire?

If a Fire Victim executed a Proof of Claim in the Bankruptcy Cases on or before 12/31/19 and subsequently died, the Trust will consider his or her claims preserved and, if properly submitted by the deceased Fire Victim’s estate or survivors, will evaluate the claims for potential eligibility. Similarly, if a Fire Victim filed a lawsuit against PG&E and died while the lawsuit still was pending and the estate or survivors submitted a Proof of Claim in the Bankruptcy Cases on or before 12/31/19, the Trust will consider the Fire Victim’s claims preserved and, if properly submitted by the deceased Fire Victim’s estate or survivors, will evaluate the claims for potential eligibility. You do not need to amend the Proof of Claim to substitute a Claimant’s estate or survivors to ensure eligibility for these claims. Instead, if you have not already identified a Representative Claimant for the decedent, you may add a Representative Claimant in the Edit Claimant Details section on your Portal.


48. Who may sign the Claims Questionnaire on behalf of a business with multiple owners?

A single owner or other duly authorized agent may sign the Claims Questionnaire on behalf of a business. The Signature section of the Claims Questionnaire contains language by which the signer declares under penalty of perjury that he/she is authorized to sign on behalf of the business.


49. Can I amend a Claims Questionnaire or continue to upload documents to support my claim(s) after I have submitted a final claims package?

Yes, you can amend a Claims Questionnaire and continue to upload supporting documents after submitting a claims package. The Claims Processor will lock a submitted Claims Questionnaire on the Portal once a claim proceeds to the review phase. If you would like to amend existing data or claims information that appears on a Claims Questionnaire, you can upload correspondence to the Portal reflecting your edits. If you would like to assert a new claim that does not already appear on a previously submitted Claims Questionnaire, you can complete a new Claims Questionnaire for that claim on the Portal. You will have the ability to upload documents throughout the course of the administration of the Trust.


50. Will the Trust review all claims data and supporting documents from Claimants?

The Trust will evaluate all Claims Questionnaires, any supporting documents that Claimants upload, and publicly available data to make award determinations.


51. How will the Trust treat claims data that is not easily verifiable?

The Trust will review supporting documents and request additional information if necessary. Also, each Claimant must sign the Claims Questionnaire under the penalty of perjury.


52. How will the Trust process documentary support or Claimant-generated valuations where a modeled claim valuation already exists?

The Trust will consider Claimant-submitted valuations. All award determinations will be based on supporting records and publicly available data.


53. What is an audit?

Under Section X of the Claims Resolution Procedures, the Trust audits claims to detect and prevent fraud. The Trust may randomly or selectively identify claims for audit to verify supporting documentation submitted (including death certificates, medical and other records) and request that a Claimant provide additional records or information. The Trust may deny a claim if it determines that the claim is fraudulent or a Claimant refuses or fails to respond to requests for records or information.


54. How will the Trust determine that a claim is fraudulent?

The Trust may determine that a claim is fraudulent if there exists any evidence of the misrepresentation, omission, or concealment of a fact material to the evaluation of the claim. A fact is material if it did affect or has the potential to affect whether the Claimant qualifies for any compensation under the Trust Agreement and Claims Resolution Procedures.


55. Why did I receive a Notice of Audit of Claim?

Your claim is in audit under Section X of the Claims Resolution Procedures. The Notice of Audit of Claim may list records or information you need to provide to complete the audit. Submit the records or information requested by the deadline at the top of the notice.


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