Get an EPA urge Public Trust and Age Concern

Get an EPA urge Public Trust and Age Concern

Public Trust and Age Concern are urging older people to put an enduring power of attorney (EPA) in place, on the international day for the older person, this Tuesday 1 October 2013.

An EPA is a legal document that allows a person to appoint someone else as the decision maker on their behalf in case they aren't able to do so through incapacity.

If a person does not have an EPA, the task of having someone else manage their affairs can be extremely difficult, requiring an application to the Family Court. This can cost thousands and take weeks to finalise.

Age Concern national president Evelyn Weir says “Having an enduring power of attorney is as important as having a will for planning ahead. There may come a time when you become unable to make or communicate decisions yourself, whether it be from accident, illness or incapacity.”

According to Public Trust's managing solicitor Henry Stokes, "It's important to set up an EPA before it's too late and decisions about who looks after your financial affairs and wellbeing get made for you."

Weir adds, “It is equally important to think about who you appoint as your EPA. Relinquishing control of your financial affairs is a decision that should be considered carefully, with enormous responsibility for the person you appoint. It is crucial that it is someone you trust and who knows how you want your welfare and property handled.

“While it's natural to consider family or friends for EPA, doing so can lead to abuse of this position."

Stokes agrees, "There are hard questions to be asked, including whether the appointee has the time, skills and knowledge to do the job. That said, in some cases it's not just about capability. You've really got to trust this person and trust is a huge thing."

A solution, according to Stokes, "could be to appoint a friend or family member as your personal care and welfare attorney then appoint someone independent, like Public Trust, to make decisions on financial matters. Many find that this is the best solution because Public Trust does not have any bias and can ensure that decisions are made according to how you wanted them."

Once these decisions are made, says Stokes, "It can be an enormous relief for people. I've known instances where an EPA wasn't in place, and when the time came, partners could not sell joint property without applying to the Family Court." Stokes adds, "We discuss EPAs with every customer we see regardless of why they called. That's how fundamentally important these documents are as part of a forward planning process. They are a wonderful thing to protect you and your assets."

Public Trust offers a $30 discount off the cost of setting up an EPA for SuperGold card holders.

Age Concern recently produced a new pamphlet, What happens if you can no longer make decisions? published in English, Maori and Chinese languages. Among other things, it explains the two kinds of EPA, who you should appoint as your attorney and their responsibilities, and how to go about setting up an EPA. To download a copy, visit the Age Concern website.


Contact: Renee Carter

Phone: 04 894 9725