Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs)
You never know what to expect in life. You may need to travel overseas at short notice, have a serious accident, suffer an illness such as a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease, or want someone else to look after your affairs as you get older.
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) can ensure that someone you trust will look after the things that matter.
What is an EPA?
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a legal document appointing an attorney to act on your behalf if you cannot or do not wish to. Unlike a Will, an EPA operates while you are alive.
Setting up an EPA will give you peace of mind that your assets and personal welfare will be properly managed on a temporary or permanent basis by someone you trust, if you become unable to do so.
There are two types of EPAs: one for property, and the other personal care and welfare.
A property EPA allows you to appoint someone to manage your financial affairs. A personal care and welfare allows you to appoint someone to make decision about your personal health and well-being in the event you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.
Everyone over 18 years of age should sign an Enduring Power of Attorney.
How do EPAs work?
If you don’t have an EPA and an important decision must be made or document signed, your family or friends must apply to the Family Court (under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988) so they can help you and legally manage your affairs. This can be costly and time-consuming and the Court may appoint someone that you would not choose.
That’s why the best time to provide for maximum and ongoing control over your assets and welfare is now. Many people prepare an EPA when they complete or review their Will.
Both types of EPA can be prepared by Perpetual Guardian. However, whilst we can be appointed as a property attorney, only a private individual can be appointed as a personal care and welfare attorney. We suggest you nominate someone you trust implicitly, such as a friend or relative, to act in this capacity.
Why choose the Perpetual Guardian team as your property manager?
The Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 recognises the special role of trustee companies, such as Perpetual Guardian, to manage assets for people.
Your Perpetual Guardian team:
- Has the experience and skills to act as a property attorney;
- Offers continuity (unlike an individual, we will not die, become ill or be absent from New Zealand when needed);
- Acts impartially and independently;
- Will work closely with other appointed attorneys;
- Can be your property attorney as well as the trustee and executor of your estate, making effective decisions on your behalf with full appreciation of your wishes as expressed in your Will; and
- Will ensure the legal requirements for an EPA are met.
What does it cost?
Preparing your EPA starts at $150.
We say start because, depending on the level of complexity you need, we might need to charge you more. To make sure you’re comfortable with the process, and before we draft anything, we provide you with a full estimate of costs as part of the consultations.
If you choose Perpetual Guardian as property attorney and we are then required to act on your behalf, we will charge you for those activities. Your local branch team can give you a full breakdown of these potential costs.
Frequently asked questions
What do you need to consider before setting up an EPA?
Before you get started with your EPA, you should consider the following:
- Who do you wish to appoint as your attorney for property?
- Who do you want to appoint as your attorney for personal care and welfare?
- Do you want to appoint a replacement attorney in case an individual named as attorney isn’t able to continue at some stage?
- Do you wish to add conditions, for example, should the attorney be required to consult with certain people or give them annual accounts or other information?
Who decides if you've lost your mental capacity?
A medical certificate must be provided by a registered health practitioner like your GP, for example, or a mental health nurse whose scope of practice includes assessing mental capacity. You can even choose to specify the qualified practitioner you want to assess your mental capacity in your EPA.
What responsibilities does my attorney have?
Your attorney must act in your best interest. They need to consult with you when acting on your behalf, encouraging you to develop and exercise the capacity you have.
Your attorney must consult with others as required by you and keep them up to date regarding any actions taken. It’s important that your attorney keeps accurate records of all decisions made and of any financial transactions undertaken on your behalf.
How flexible is an EPA?
You can decide how your EPA will operate. You can:
- Appoint an individual to work with your attorney;
- Appoint a substitute attorney;
- Cancel or change it at any time - as long as you have the required mental capacity to do so;
- For a Property EPA you can specify whether it takes effect immediately or sometime in the future; and,
- Decide whether the attorney looks after all or some of your assets, under your Property EPA.