It’s a very good idea to set up an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) as soon as you can. In fact it's a good idea for all adults should have one, even if they’re perfectly healthy.
EPAs are legal documents in which you nominate a person or people (your ‘attorney/s’) to look after you and the things you own if you become incapable of looking after them yourself. There are two types of EPA – one for your personal care and welfare (for decisions about matters such as your medical treatment and where you live) and another for decisions about your finances (bank accounts, assets, property).
You must set up an EPA while you are still mentally capable. That’s why you should consider seeing a legal professional to set up an EPA as soon as possible after your diagnosis, if you haven’t already got one in place.
A personal care and welfare EPA is enacted only after a medical professional has decided you can no longer make good, safe decisions for yourself.
Setting up an EPA means:
- you get the chance to decide who will make deiaions for you in the future
- you can discuss with that person what you would like to happen with your care and finances
- it is very clear to your family and whānau who you would like to make decisions for you and what you would like those decisions to be.
Once you’ve set up an EPA, make sure you give copies to family members, your attorney/s, your doctor, and that you keep one for yourself.
If you don’t set up an EPA, your family may have to apply to the Family Court for the power to make decisions for you and that will cost money and time. It may also mean you end up with someone you didn’t choose looking after you and your affairs.
The Ministry of Social Development has more information about EPAs and how to get one.