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Expect the unexpected

Losing the ability to make your own decisions is an unnerving prospect, but being prepared for a worst-case scenario can provide some peace of mind – which is why we recommend seniors consider creating an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).

There are two types of EPA, one for property and the other for personal care and welfare. This article looks at the former.

What is a property EPA?

Effectively, it allows you to appoint a trusted party or parties (attorneys) to act on your behalf to manage assets specified by you. These could include cash, your home or shares.

If you choose, your EPA can become effective while you’re still mentally capable. Otherwise, it can only be brought into effect when you’re declared mentally incapable by either a relevant health practitioner or the Family Court.

Appointing an attorney

Consider carefully who you’d like to be your attorney, because an EPA gives them complete control over the property included within it. A single attorney can be responsible for both your property and wellbeing, but they need to be named in separate EPAs.

They must be over 20 years old, not bankrupt and be mentally capable. You can also appoint trustee organisations, such as the Public Trust, to be your property attorney and you can have more than one attorney.

If you do, you can specify their areas of responsibilities and whether or not they’re required to act together or individually.

What are my attorney’s responsibilities?

Your attorney should use your property in your best interests. They must also comply with any conditions and restrictions included in the EPA and the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988.

If you have a separate personal care and welfare EPA, the parties are required to consult with one another regularly to ensure your interests are not compromised due to any breakdown in their relationship. Your property attorney must also provide them with access to any funds they need to fulfill their duties, such as your living or medical costs.

Changing or challenging your attorney

You can change or end your EPA, at any time provided you are mentally capable. If your attorney becomes bankrupt, mentally incapable, subject to a personal or property court order, or the Family Court revokes their appointment, they lose their power. An EPA also stops if you, or your attorney(s), die.

For a more information about EPAs and what your attorneys can and can’t do, visit: http://superseniors.msd.govt.nz/finance-planning/enduring-power-of-attorney/ or https://www.justice.govt.nz/family/powers-to-make-decisions/the-court-and-enduring-power-of-attorney-epa/.

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