EPAs 101

We find that not many Kiwis know what an enduring power of attorney is, or what it’s needed for. Given that it comes into an effect to protect you if you reach a vulnerable time in your life, it’s important that you know what measures can be put in place.

What is it?

An Enduring power of attorney (EPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person you trust or a trustee corporation, to make decisions on your behalf when you’ve been medically assessed as being unable to makes decisions for yourself. It's great to consider creating your EPA at the same time as your will.

The person or trustee corporation that you appoint to make these decisions on your behalf is called an attorney. In making the EPA, you will be known as the donor.

There are two types of EPAs:

  • Enduring power of attorney for property: this appoints a person or a trustee corporation to make decisions about your property and finances, on your behalf.You can choose for this to kick in at any point in time, not just for when you are no longer able to make your own decisions if you find managing your finances overwhelming.
  • Enduring power of attorney for personal care and welfare: this appoints a person to make personal care and welfare decisions on your behalf. A trustee corporation can't be the attorney for an EPA for personal care and welfare.

What kind of tasks will my attorney carry out?

A property attorney will make decisions around, and carry out tasks like:

  • Pay your bills
  • Decide what to do with your assets e.g. your house
  • Get information from your bank
  • Arrange benefits

A personal care and welfare attorney will make decisions around, and carry out tasks like:

  • Determine the best place for you to live
  • Talk to medical staff to make decisions about your health and treatment

When does the EPA come into effect?

A personal care and welfare EPA comes into effect when:

  • You become seriously ill or injured
  • There is a decline in mental health or condition that affects decision making , e.g. dementia

A medical professional needs to assess that you are mentally incapable before the personal care and welfare EPA can be activated.

For a property EPA, you are able to decide when it comes into effect. It can be:

  • Effectively immediately because you can’t keep up with the financial life admin
  • Only when you’ve been medically assessed as incapable

When you don't have an EPA, no person (not even your partner, parent or child) is able to automatically do things that an attorney is allowed to do. This means your loved ones need to go through the court to have someone appointed to do these things. This can be a long and costly experience and the court may appoint someone to act on your behalf that you don’t want.

Even something as simple as paying your rates may be difficult if no one has legal access to your accounts.

Andrew Ford, Head of Retail at Heartland Bank, says “it is always good to be prepared. Having an enduring power of attorney in place can assist you and your loved ones in the future."

What’s the difference between an ‘enduring power of attorney’ and ‘power of attorney’?

A power of attorney is not to be confused to an enduring power of attorney. A power of attorney gives someone the legal rights to manage your affairs on your behalf for a specific time period for specific tasks. it doesn't cover when you become mentally incapable. An example of when one may be used is if you're going overseas and want someone to do specific financial tasks on your behalf.

An EPA does not have an expiration and comes into effect when you become mentally incapable, or for a property EPA at a point that you can decide. EPAs can be changed and cancelled any time while you are still mentally capable.

Creating an EPA

An EPA must be witnessed in accordance to the PPPR act, by a lawyer or a trustee corporation like Public Trust.  As the largest and oldest trustee corporation for estate administration services with a NZ government guarantee, we’re also able to act as the attorney for the EPA for property.

If you’re over 65, you’re also entitled to $30 off* an EPA with a SuperGold card with us.

You can start creating your EPA with us online here

If you prefer to speak to our specialists or need extra information, fill out the form here and we’ll be in touch soon to arrange a consultation for a time that suits you.

*Discount not valid for online EPA's