Have you ever wondered what happens when you can no longer manage your own affairs? The Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 allows you to appoint people you trust to manage your affairs under Enduring Powers of Attorney. These documents come in...
Enduring Powers of Attorney
There are three documents every adult should have in their “legal tool-box”. A legally valid Will, an Enduring Power of Attorney in relation to Property and an Enduring Power of Attorney in relation to Personal Care and Welfare.
Other documents will come in and out of your legal tool-box, but these three documents should always be there.
Enduring Powers of Attorney are important because they do exactly what their name suggests. They endure, or have effect, even if you lose mental capacity.
There are two types of Enduring Power of Attorney.
In this instance, property doesn’t just mean your home but includes anything in your name, such as bank accounts, insurances, utilities or any other assets you own.
Your Attorney will make decisions for you regarding your assets, always making sure they keep firmly in mind what you would do, if you were able to make the decision for yourself.
You can decide when this Enduring Power of Attorney comes into effect.
Personal Care and Welfare
Your Attorney will make decisions for you regarding your living arrangements, medical treatment and anything else relating to your personal care. Again, they should ensure they are making the decisions you would make for yourself, if you were able to.
This Enduring Power of Attorney only comes into effect if you are diagnosed by a doctor as having lost the capacity to make decisions for yourself.
The most critical factor in appointing any Attorney, whether for Property or Personal Care & Welfare, is to appoint people who have the skill set for the tasks you are asking them to do and whose judgment and abilities you trust implicitly.
Process of Appointment of Welfare Guardian
If you have lost mental capacity and you don’t have Enduring Powers of Attorney your family have the ability to apply to the Family Court to have someone appointed as your welfare guardian and / or property administrator or property manager.
The difference, of course, is that this is a court process which will almost certainly take longer to complete and will cost much more.
For all of those reasons, Enduring Powers of Attorney, along with a valid Will, are incredibly important documents. They are like personal insurance as you are ensuring that people that you know, love and trust have the ability to make decisions for you if you cannot make decisions for yourself.
When you are making a decision about your Enduring Powers of Attorney, it is important you get good advice from a team who understand how your decisions may impact on you and your legal requirements in later years. Please contact Fleur McDonald on 03 365 1595. Together we can explore how we can help you find the best solution to meet your legal needs.
THE END OF LIFE CHOICE ACT 2019
The End of Life Choice Act (the Act) came into force on the 7th November 2021. The Act, led by ACT Party leader David Seymour, passed its third reading in Parliament in November 2019 but the final decision was in the hands of the public in a binding referendum in October 2020 where 65.1% voted in favour of the Act.
The Act provides a legal framework for people who are experiencing unbearable suffering from a terminal illness to ask for medical assistance to end their life. This is known in the Act as ‘Assisted Dying’.
Assisted Dying is defined in the Act as the administration of medication to the person by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner; or the self-administering of medication by the person.
To be eligible for assisted dying, the person must meet all the criteria set out in the Act. A person must therefore be:
• over 18 years of age• a citizen or permanent New Zealand resident
• suffering from a terminal illness which is likely to end their life with 6 months• in an advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capability
• experiencing unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable
• competent to make an informed decision about assisted dying
A person is not eligible for assisted dying solely because they are suffering from a mental disorder or illness, have a disability or of advanced age.
If a person requests assisted dying, both their doctor and a second, independent doctor must agree that the person is eligible for assisted dying. If either doctor is unsure, a psychiatrist must also assess the person.
A doctor or nurse practitioner can chose not to assist a person with assisted dying, if they have a conscientious objection. If they have a conscientious objection, they must inform the person of their right to ask the Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand (SCENZ) group for the name and contact details of a replacement doctor / nurse practitioner.
Further information on the Act and assisted dying can be accessed from the Ministry of Health website (https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/life-stages/assisted-dying-service/end-life-choice-act-2019) or from your doctor or nurse practitioner.
This article provides a brief summary of the legislative framework for the Act. It should not be seen as supporting or objecting to the Act or assisted dying.