Choosing an attorney for your EPA
An enduring power of attorney (EPA) is a legal document outlines who can take care of your personal or financial matters if you can't. That person is called your attorney and you’ll need to choose one carefully.
This doesn't mean someone gets all the power to do whatever they want with your finances or personal care - and we have some tips to get your mind ticking on how to pick this person.
Your attorney will need to step in when you've been medically assessed by a doctor and deemed incapable of making decisions. This could be down to illness, an accident or when aging takes its toll.
When choosing your attorney, it’s important to consider the following:
- Do they understand the NZ environment, and can speak English?
- Do they live in NZ? They should be able to make their way to you if needed, and can respond to your matters in our timezone.
- Are over 20 years of age
- If they have been bankrupt, as they will not be able to act as attorney.
Your attorney will be doing tasks and making decisions about your welfare or money and belongings. Someone with good organisation and communication skills would be suited to the role. Being comfortable with financial tasks, like paying bills and managing bank accounts, is necessary for the attorney for an EPA for property.
Having the above criteria in mind will help you make the best choices.
With great power comes great responsibility
The person or organisation you choose needs to accept their duties, and are required to sign the EPA. However, you are able to appoint backups for your attorney if the time comes, and they are unable to carry out the responsibilities. They are called successor attorneys.
You should never feel pressured or manipulated to appoint an attorney. If you feel you're being pressured into a financial decision, notify the police or call the Elder Abuse Response Service on 0800 32 668 65, a confidential 24 hour, free helpline.
EPAs also need to be signed by a trustee corporation like Public Trust to ensure you're not under duress.
Your attorney is not the only person involved
In an EPA, you can also appoint interested parties, like family, that the attorney needs to talk to before they make decisions to make sure your best interests are at heart.
For example, an external trustee corporation like Public Trust can act as your attorney in an EPA for finances and property, with the provision that we need to consult with your sister before decisions are made.
Do you have someone in your life that you would want to be your attorney in your EPA?
Is there someone in your life who you think you could be the attorney for?
Thinking about these questions, and getting your plans set in paper will help when unpredictable situations come up.