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Individual rights & freedoms

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

Applying for a personal or property order

Who can apply to the Family Court for a personal or property order about me?

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

Various people who are interested in your welfare can apply to the Family Court for a personal order or property order for you:

  • you can apply yourself
  • a family or whānau member, including relatives such as grandchildren and nieces/nephews
  • a doctor, a social worker from Child, Youth and Family, or the manager of any hospital, rest home or other place where you’re being cared for
  • someone to whom you’ve given an enduring power of attorney (see “Enduring powers of attorney” above in this chapter)
  • if the Family Court has already appointed a property manager for you, they can apply for a personal order for you (see “Property orders and property managers” later in this chapter), and if the Court has already appointed a welfare guardian for you, they can apply for a property order for you (see “Personal orders and welfare guardians” below)
  • any non-profit group that supports people who’ve lost “mental capacity”
  • a trustee company, like Public Trust or the Māori Trustee/Te Tumu Paeroa
  • any other person who gets the Family Court’s permission to apply.

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, s 27

If you’re being cared for in a hospital, rest home or other institution, the person in charge can notify the Family Court if they think it would be in your interests for a property manager to be appointed for you. The court registrar can then refer this to a trustee company to investigate. If the company corporation finds that no-one is intending to apply for a property order but it thinks an application should be made, the court can arrange for the situation to be drawn to the attention of the different people who have the right to apply.

Do you 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 you can’t afford a lawyer, you may qualify for Legal Aid (see the chapter “Legal Aid and other legal help“).

You can get an application form from the Family Court or from the Family Court website. You’ll need to file the application with the Family Court – there’s no application fee.

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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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