Home | Browse Topics | Individual rights & freedoms | Decision making and powers of attorney | Applying to the Family Court for a personal or property order

Individual rights & freedoms

Family Court orders for your welfare and property: How decisions can be made when there’s no EPA

Applying to the Family Court for a personal or property order

Who can ask the Family Court to make a decision on my behalf?

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, ss 7, 26, 27

The Family Court can make decisions on your behalf by making a Personal or Property Order.

Anyone who has a concern about your welfare can ask the Family Court to make a Personal Order or Property Order, including:

  • a family or whānau member, including relatives such as grandchildren and nieces/nephews
  • a doctor, a social worker from Oranga Tamariki, or the manager of any hospital, rest home or other place where you’re being cared for
  • anyone you’ve appointed as an attorney in an EPA (see: “Enduring powers of attorney”)
  • if you have a property manager, they can apply for a Personal Order (they can’t apply for a Property Order because that’s already their role)
  • if you have a welfare guardian, they can apply for a Property Order (they can’t apply for a Personal Order because that’s already their role)
  • any non-profit group that supports people who’ve lost mental capacity
  • a trustee company, like the Public Trust or the Māori Trustee/Te Tumu Paeroa, or
  • any other person who gets the Family Court’s permission to apply.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for a Personal or Property Order?

Not necessarily, but it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer anyway. If someone applies for a Personal or Property Order about you, you’ll be given a lawyer if you don’t have one already (see: “Who’ll speak up for me and what I want to happen?”).

If you can’t afford a lawyer, you might qualify for Legal Aid (see: “Legal Aid”).

An alternative to going to court

Apply directly to a trustee company to manage your property

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, ss 32, 33, 34

An alternative to going to court is to apply directly to a trustee company. You can ask the trustee company to manage your property on your behalf.

You can do this if you’ve lost (or partly lost) your ability to manage your own property. You have to apply in writing and also include:

  • certificates from two doctors (at least one must be independent from you and your family), and
  • a statutory declaration signed by you, stating that you’ve received advice from a lawyer about the application.

The trustee company’s role begins as soon as they accept the application and file it in the Family Court. They are now your property manager, with all the rights and powers that you’ve specified in your application.

Other people such as a relative or doctor can also apply if your property is worth less than $100,000 in total. Their application also has to include the two doctors’ certificates and a statutory declaration from you.

If you don’t want the trustee to control your property anymore, you can give them seven days’ written notice.

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

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top