What’s a power of attorney and why do you need one?

What’s a power of attorney and why do you need one?

 

What if something terrible happened to you and you couldn’t speak or look after yourself properly? Are you sure that other people will know how to look after you – and your things?

In case there’s a time when you’re unable to make decisions or communicate them yourself, it’s crucial that someone you trust knows how you want them to handle your life and property.

The key to this peace of mind is to appoint an enduring power of attorney, writes Age Concern New Zealand.

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You buy insurance, don’t you?

It’s like insurance: we may pay for it, but we never hope to use it. Although it’s hard to imagine ourselves being less capable, it’s even more worrying to wonder who’d make those decisions for us, if we couldn’t.

The advantage of appointing your own enduring power of attorney is choosing who you’d want to make decisions about you, and for you.  So, what do you need to consider?

·         Trust. You must trust that person to genuinely act in your best interests, rather than in their own. 

·         Your voice. It’s important that they’ll involve you in the decisions as much as possible. 

·         Your wishes. It’s vital that they’re aware of your priorities, values, beliefs, and preferences, so that they’ll try to follow your wishes in any decisions that they’re called to make. 

·         Your choices. Consider only those who are genuinely committed to your needs, and won’t be compromised by other competing demands of their own. 

·         Fit for purpose. Consider people who’d best meet your requirements regardless of where they are currently living, as the many communication channels available now make long-distance support totally feasible.  

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Think hard about choosing your enduring power of attorney before you organise or complete the legal paperwork.

You may find it helpful to talk through your wishes with those trusted people you’re considering. Once you raise this topic it may become clear who the right people for you are.

You need to appoint both a ‘personal care and welfare’ enduring power of attorney, and a ‘property’ enduring power of attorney.

Others can be consulted

Even though only one person can be appointed as ‘personal care and welfare’ enduring power of attorney, you can name others that they need to consult with in the document.  For your ‘property’ enduring power of attorney, more than one person (or corporation) can be appointed and even given specific tasks. 

Adults at any age can decide to appoint enduring powers of attorney for themselves. It is possible to cancel a named enduring power of attorney and appoint another, while you’re still able to. So, things may change in the future, but don’t let that stop you appointing people now.

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If you didn’t have a power of attorney

Are you wondering about what would happen if a medical assessment said you were incapacitated and you hadn’t got around to appointing enduring powers of attorney? 

The answer is that decisions would be made for you. The question would then become who? 

Welfare or property guardians could be appointed to act in this role for you, but this process is more complex, and it costs a lot more. 

Plus, these guardians may not be the people you’d have chosen. Right now, you have the choice. So, do it now.

For more information, contact ageconcern.org.nz

First published 16 July, 2018

JUNO does not contain financial advice as defined by the Financial Advisers Act 2008. Consult a suitably qualified financial adviser before making investment decisions. This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that JUNO considers accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.


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