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Individual rights & freedoms

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

Ending an enduring power of attorney

Can I change my mind about giving someone an EPA?

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, ss 100A, 106

Yes. So long as you’re still “mentally capable”, you can change or cancel (“revoke”) an enduring power of attorney at any time.

Changes to an EPA should be done in writing, in a document that’s signed and witnessed in the same way that the original EPA was witnessed (see in this section, “How to create an enduring power of attorney”). However, it doesn’t have to be witnessed by the same person who witnessed the original EPA.

You can cancel the EPA simply by giving your EPA decision-maker (attorney) a written notice saying this. You can also suspend the EPA temporarily if you were “mentally incapable” for a time but have now regained “mental capacity”.

The processes are different depending on whether you change, cancel or replace your EPA, so get advice from a lawyer about which option best suits your situation and how to follow the correct process for it.

If you cancel your EPA, make sure you notify any bank or other institution that’s likely to be affected.

How an enduring power of attorney can come to an end

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, ss 95A, 104–106

An enduring power of attorney stops having any effect if:

  • you cancel (revoke) the EPA or the attorney’s appointment under the EPA while you have “mental capacity”, by giving a written notice to the attorney (if you’ve made a new EPA that revokes the earlier one, you can simply give a copy of the new EPA to the old attorney)
  • you die (in other words, your attorney has no ongoing power to deal with your estate (your property) after you die)
  • the attorney states in writing that they no longer want to act as your attorney, through a “notice of disclaimer”
  • your attorney dies, loses mental capacity, or goes bankrupt
  • you had appointed two or more joint attorneys, and one of them dies, goes bankrupt or loses their own mental capacity (attorneys appointed to act “jointly” must always decide and act together, so a single attorney can’t validly continue on their own; by contrast attorneys appointed “severally” can decide and act separately, and so one of them can continue on their own)
  • the Family Court cancels the EPA (see the next heading).

When will the Family Court cancel the appointment of an attorney?

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, s 105

The Family Court must cancel your attorney’s appointment if the judge is satisfied that:

  • you were pressured or tricked into appointing the attorney, by unfair influence or fraud, or
  • the attorney isn’t suitable for the role, taking into account, in particular, their relationship with you.

The Family Court can – but doesn’t have to – cancel your attorney’s appointment if the judge is satisfied that:

  • what your attorney is doing or planning to do isn’t in your best interests, or
  • they haven’t consulted with or given information to the people you had named for this purpose in your EPA.

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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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