Enduring Powers of Attorney
Who should manage your property assets and welfare if you become mentally incapacitated through a medical event or old age?
It was from this perceived need that the Personal and Property Rights Act was passed, allowing everyone to appoint in advance, an attorney to act on their behalf a) in respect of their care and welfare; and b) in respect of their property matters.
An ‘EPA’ is a power of management given by a person who is mentally competent which provides for management of their affairs in the event that they lose mental capacity. Having the Enduring Powers of Attorney in place can significantly reduce the stress and pressure on family members needing to make proper provision for the orderly administration of the incapacitated person’s affairs. Accordingly, the time to consider completing Enduring Powers of Attorney is at a time when you are able to consider which family members are most suited to taking on the responsibilities for a) care and welfare; and b) management of financial and property matters. You will need to consider whether that person has the ability to manage your affairs competently and honestly, and also be familiar with your family and understand the obligations the attorney accepts to property administer and manage the personal affairs of another. Changes to the Personal and Property Rights Act require that the documents must be witnessed by a lawyer, legal executive or an officer of a trustee corporation. The signatures of the Donor and the Donee must be witnessed by different persons, who must explain to each party, the rights and obligations being transferred pursuant to the Enduring Powers of Attorney. The power of attorney continues during the lifetime of the Donor, notwithstanding any subsequent mental incapacity, but is extinguished upon the death of the Donor when the administration of their affairs is assumed by the Executor of their Will.
The appropriate time to consider completing Enduring Powers of Attorney is when you next review your Will.
Guides to the law
Here are links to the New Zealand Law Society law awareness pamphlets.