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Individual rights & freedoms

Enduring powers of attorney: Planning ahead by choosing someone to make decisions for you

Choosing someone to be your decision-maker (“attorney”) under an EPA

Who should I choose to be my EPA decision-maker?

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, s 95(3)

Choosing your decision-maker (“attorney”) under an EPA is an important decision and you should choose carefully. Naturally, people often choose a family member or close friend as their EPA attorney. Whoever you choose you need to be confident that you can trust them completely and that they’ll always act in your best interests. You should feel sure they would make decisions that would reflect your own views.

Your attorney will also need to have the skills necessary for managing your affairs. If they’re going to be dealing with your property, they’ll need to be capable of keeping proper records and accounts.

Restrictions on who you can appoint under an EPA

There are some legal restrictions on who you can appoint as your decision-maker (attorney) under an EPA:

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, s 98

  • Restrictions on who can be a care and welfare attorney
    • the person you choose must be at least 20 years old, and they can’t be bankrupt
    • you can appoint only one person to be an EPA attorney for personal care and welfare (but you can appoint more than one EPA property attorney: see below)
    • you can’t appoint a trustee corporation, like Public Trust or Te Tumu Paeroa/the Māori Trustee.

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, ss 95, 97

  • Restrictions on who can be a property attorney
    • they must be at least 20 years old, and they can’t be bankrupt
    • you can choose an individual person, like a family member, friend or business partner, or you can choose a trustee corporation, like Public Trust
    • you can appoint more than one property attorney. In your EPA you can say they have to make decisions together (you do this by appointing them as attorneys “jointly”), or you can give each one the power to make legally valid decisions (by appointing them “severally”).

What if there’s a disagreement between my care and welfare attorney and my property attorney?

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, ss 99, 101

If you have different attorneys for personal care and welfare and for property, and they disagree about something, the decisions of the care and welfare attorney override those of the property attorney. However, either of them can go to the Family Court for directions whenever there’s a disagreement.

The property attorney has to give the care and welfare attorney any financial support they need to carry out their duties, unless the powers you gave the property attorney don’t allow this or if the Family Court has ordered otherwise.

You can’t appoint a trustee company (like Public Trust) to be your attorney for care and welfare. So if a trustee company is your attorney for property, you’ll need to appoint someone else for care and welfare.

Did this answer your question?

Decision making and powers of attorney

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Ministry of Justice

www.justice.govt.nz/family/powers-to-make-decisions

This has information about the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988.

Office for Senior Citizens

www.superseniors.msd.govt.nz/finance-planning/enduring-power-of-attorney

This website has useful information and videos, and also templates for preparing an enduring power of attorney.

Public Trust

www.publictrust.co.nz/personal/enduring-power-of-attorney

The Public Trust website has information on enduring powers of attorney.

Phone: 0800 371 471

Welfare Guardians Trusts

www.welfareguardians.nz

This site has information about welfare guardians and links to sites of some local Welfare Guardians Trusts.

People First

www.peoplefirst.org.nz/news-and-resources/easy-read-resources

People First New Zealand is a self advocacy organisation that is led and directed by people with learning (intellectual) disability. They create Easy Read resources which are available free to download on their website. Their resources include:

  • Information on Supported Decision-Making
  • Supported Decision-making tool
  • Enduring power of attorney information.

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