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Individual rights & freedoms

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

How to create an enduring power of attorney (EPA)

Do I need a lawyer if I want to create an enduring power of attorney?

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, s 94A

You will need to get either a lawyer, a qualified legal executive, or a representative from a trustee corporation.

It’s best to get full, independent advice from a lawyer with experience in this area before creating your EPA. They can advise you about what terms you might want to include in the EPA, and they can make sure it properly expresses what you want to happen.

What should I consider before making an EPA?

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, ss 97, 99A, 99B, 107

You’ll need to consider:

Further information to include in a property EPA

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, s 97

You should tell the attorney for your property EPA what you own, where they can find possessions and important documents, and what your exact wishes are. Specifically:

  • list all your main assets, including your house, car, bank accounts, life insurance policies, furniture and jewellery
  • list any money owed to you or other assets that you’ve lent out
  • list your debts and other liabilities (for example, that you’re a guarantor for someone’s loan)
  • record where you keep your important documents, like the title deed to your house, birth certificate, and insurance policies
  • decide what things you want your attorney to able to do on your behalf – these powers can be as limited or as wide as you choose (see: “What decisions can my attorneys make on my behalf?”)
  • state when the EPA comes into effect – this can be immediately, at a specified time, or only if and when you lose mental capacity and become unable to manage your property affairs (see: “When will my EPA kick in?”).
Requirements for creating a legally valid EPA

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, ss 94A, 95, 112 Protection of Personal and Property Rights (Enduring Powers of Attorney Forms and Prescribed Information) Regulations 2008

This section explains the current requirements to make a valid EPA.

If you made your EPA before 25 September 2008, the rules were different and your EPA is still valid, even if it doesn’t meet the requirements below.

The new requirements introduced in 2008 place more responsibility on your witness – they have to be a lawyer or someone with professional knowledge about EPAs and they have to explain the effect of your EPA to you.

To be valid, your enduring power of attorney has to meet these requirements:

  • You have to complete the correct form.
  • You must sign the EPA, and this must be witnessed by someone who is:
    • a lawyer, a qualified legal executive with at least one year’s experience (they must be working for and directly supervised by a lawyer), or someone from a trustee company (like Public Trust or the Māori Trustee/Te Tumu Paeroa), and
    • independent from any of your attorneys (however, it’s allowed if you’re appointing a trustee company or a lawyer as your attorney, and the witness works at the same trustee company or law firm).
  • Your witness has to sign a certificate to confirm that they’re independent of your witness (unless the exception for trustee companies or lawyers applies).
  • Your witness must sign a statement confirming that:
    • they’ve explained the effects and implications of the EPA to you
    • they’ve explained your legal rights, including your right to suspend or cancel the power of attorney
    • they believe on reasonable grounds that you understand the EPA and its potential risks and consequences, and that you’re not being pressured by anyone to sign the EPA
    • they have no reason to suspect you may be mentally incapable.
  • Your attorney (or attorneys) has to sign the EPA, and this has to be witnessed, but it doesn’t have to be witnessed by a lawyer. Your attorney’s signature can be witnessed by anyone over 18 except:
    • you or your own witness
    • a relative of the attorney, including the attorney’s spouse or partner, or
    • anyone living at the same address as the attorney.

Did this answer your question?

Decision making and powers of attorney

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice has information about the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988.

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

Office for Senior Citizens

The Office for Senior Citizens website has useful information and templates for preparing an enduring power of attorney.

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

New Zealand Law Society

The Law Society has helpful information on Powers of Attorney.

Website: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/powers-of-attorney

Public Trust

The Public Trust is a provider of wills and estate administration services. The Public Trust’s website has helpful information about enduring powers of attorney.

Website:  www.publictrust.co.nz/products-and-services/enduring-power-of-attorney
Phone:  0800 371 471

Welfare Guardian Trusts

The Welfare Guardians Trusts’ website provides information about welfare guardians and links to some local Welfare Guardian Trusts.

Website: www.welfareguardians.nz

People First

People First New Zealand is a self-advocacy organisation that is led and directed by people with learning disabilities. They create Easy Read resources which are available free to download on their website.

Website: www.peoplefirst.org.nz/news-and-resources/easy-read-resources
Email: ask@peoplefirst.org.nz
Phone: 0800 20 60 70

Organ donation

Organ Donation New Zealand has information about organ and tissue donation.

Website: www.donor.co.nz

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