Many legal minds making NZ LAW work

We are an association of independent legal practices, proactively sharing ideas and expertise for the benefit of our clients.

No Enduring Power of Attorney?

Published: 25th February 2019

Author: Chris Kelly, Greg Kelly Law Ltd

It’s a time-consuming and expensive process if you don’t have an EPA
Most people are now aware of the importance of having an enduring power of attorney (EPA). If you are unable to make decisions for yourself at any stage (either temporarily or longer term) it is important there is someone in place to act on your behalf. What happens to you, and your family situation, if you have no EPA?

Ensuring you have EPAs (for property and for your health and welfare) is a very important part of keeping your personal affairs in order. An EPA can be used if you are out of the country for a long time and you need someone to keep an eye on your financial affairs, or if you become mentally incapacitated and cannot look after your property or yourself.

Mental incapacity can happen for a variety of reasons – a car crash or other accident, old age or a medical event. If anything like this happens and you can’t manage your own affairs, unless you have a signed EPA, there is no one with an automatic right to step in. Your spouse or partner may be able to deal with some of your jointly-owned assets but they are not authorised to sign on your behalf if you’re mentally incapacitated. If there is no EPA, then it is necessary to apply to the Family Court.

Family Court orders
The Family Court has power to make a number of orders under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988. The two most important orders are the appointment of:

1. A welfare guardian to look after the person’s personal care and welfare, and
2. A manager or managers to take care of the person’s property – this includes everything that person owns (bank accounts, investments and so on).

Court process
With no EPA, if you need someone to manage your affairs, an application must be filed in the Family Court before an appointment is made. A doctor’s certificate is needed to prove you are mentally incapacitated. The court will appoint an independent lawyer to speak on your behalf – who will usually need to meet you. Other members of your family will usually need to be notified as they have a right to put their views before the court. After hearing from the appointed lawyer, and anyone else who has made their views known, the court will make a decision based on what it thinks is best for you.

Often the court process will only take two or three months. However, it can take longer, especially if some family members oppose the proposed appointment. Other issues can arise, for example, if the property manager also asks for permission to make a will on your behalf .

Review and reporting requirements
Court appointments do not last indefinitely, unlike EPAs which last until you pass away. The court will usually require the manager and welfare guardians to apply for a review of their appointment after three years. The manager or welfare guardians can be reappointed, but the court must be satisfied their appointment is still necessary and in your best interests. The entire court process, including appointment of an independent lawyer, has to be followed again.

Property managers also need to file a report every year stating the extent of the assets under administration . There is a specified form for this; the report is reviewed by Public Trust.
The appointment of a property manager or welfare guardian is not straightforward. There are ongoing reporting and review requirements which all add to the cost. Our advice is usually to avoid having to do this if at all possible.

How to avoid all this? Get an EPA
It’s much easier and more straightforward to ensure you have an EPA, and for you to review it every few years. For your family to go through the Family Court to appoint a property manager and/or welfare guardian is expensive and time-consuming.

Do the sensible thing and get your EPA organised soon.

Related Articles

  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Kapiti Coast
  • Manawatu - Wanganui
  • Marlborough
  • Nelson
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Taranaki
  • Waikato
  • Wairarapa
  • Wellington
  • West Coast

Rennie Cox

The law firm of Rennie Cox dates back to 1920, and is approaching its centennary. The firm is one of the few firms in Auckland, or indeed in New Zealand, where there have been three generations of the same family as partners from inception through to the present day.

The legal staff at Rennie Cox are experienced in the areas in which they work and are committed to developing ongoing relationships with our clients.

Region: Auckland

Phone: 09 303 4089

Sandford & Partners Lawyers

We are a medium sized Rotorua law firm practicing in areas of business and property law, public law and personal legal services.

We are professionals who listen, who seek to understand your needs, and give practical and usable advice. We thrive on the challenge of providing excellent legal work and aim to give you the highest level of service. For us, working for you means dealing with the little details as well as the big picture.

Region: Bay of Plenty

Phone: 07 348 6039

Malley & Co

Our experienced, solutions-focused team will work hard to get you the best possible outcome, whatever your legal needs.

Region: Canterbury

Phone: 03 379 0712

Purnell Lawyers

There is nothing as inevitable as change. Since opening for business early last century, we at Purnell Lawyers have seen many changes both in name and in the people who have made up the members of our team. We have been privileged to have served the public throughout all of these times. 

We are confident that we will continue to bring top quality legal services to our clients well into the future.

Region: Coromandel

Phone: 07 868 8680

Woodward Chrisp

At Woodward Chrisp we strive to meet the needs of our clients by providing a wide range of high quality legal services within a supportive and collaborative environment.

Woodward Chrisp is the amalgamation of two long established Gisborne legal firms: Woodward Iles & Co and Chrisp and Chrisp. Today’s partners are Ross Revington, Adam Simperingham and Jeff Allen.

Region: Gisborne

Phone: 06 869 0900

NZ LAW Limited

NZ LAW Limited is an association of independent legal practices with member firms located throughout New Zealand. There are currently 57 member firms practising in a wide range of legal disciplines ranging from business law, home buying and selling, immigration law and intellectual property to aviation law and viticulture.

The group was established in 1992 when about five law firms met in Auckland to find a way to benefit their clients by replicating the conviviality and the sharing of ideas and expertise that occurs in larger law firms, but still be able to retain client confidentiality and their own independence.

Region: Hawke's Bay

Phone: 06 835 5299

Breaden McCardle Lawyers

Breaden McCardle Lawyers is the largest full service legal practice in the Kapiti Region.

We are here to help you and pride ourselves on providing practical, solutions based advice to clients in an approachable and straightforward manner.

Region: Kapiti Coast

Phone: 04 296 1105

CS Law

Looking after you, your family, and the small print.

Region: Manawatu - Wanganui

Phone: 06 368 9239

Wain & Naysmith

Based in Blenheim, Wain & Naysmith Lawyers is a full service law firm, and a powerhouse for property, family and business law.

We pride ourselves in providing clear and cost effective legal solutions and practical advice for you, your family and your business.

Region: Marlborough

Phone: 03 520 6103

Knapps Lawyers

As a firm, we promise to look after you and treat you in a manner that we would expect to be treated by a professional services provider; we promise to use every available legal remedy available to us to resolve your issue and to do what you ask us to do in a timely manner.

We will hold in strict confidence all information that we acquire through our work for you and which concerns your business or personal information.  The only exceptions are where you authorise us to disclose such information or where we must do so by law.

Region: Nelson

Phone: 03 544 7888

Thomson Wilson

Thomson Wilson is a full service law firm based in Whangarei. We’ve been trusted lawyers for the Northland community and beyond for 75 years.

We act for individuals and families, businesses, public sector and other organisations. Whether you need no-fuss advice on a simple matter, or a team of legal experts. 

Our staff provide advice in most areas of the law, including property law, business law, trusts and estates, separation and divorce, resource management, criminal law and more.

We also offer expertise in specialist areas such as Maori land, local government law, farming and forestry.

Region: Northland

Phone: 09 430 4380

Berry & Co

Berry & Co is a long established, well respected Otago law firm providing a broad range of legal services for our business and personal clients.

We enjoy working closely with our clients, we listen and then we provide practical commonsense legal advice that achieves the outcome that is desired. We have a reputation for obtaining excellent results.

Region: Otago

Phone: 03 433 0007

Sheddan Pritchard Law Ltd

Incorporating traditional values and a fresh perspective, Sheddan Pritchard Law is here to assist you with all your legal needs. 

Our friendly and team-driven approach underpins our firm’s values, recognising the importance of putting people first and allows us to connect and nurture professional relationships with new and existing clients within our local community of Gore, as well as throughout New Zealand and extending overseas.

Region: Southland

Phone: 03 209 0030

Welsh McCarthy

Welsh McCarthy practises in Hawera, South Taranaki. Predominant industries in the South Taranaki district are dairy farming, oil and gas. The South Taranaki area also has the largest one-site multi product milk processing facility in the world

We deal with company and commercial transactions, commercial and family law, farm and residential sales and purchases, estate planning and family and charitable trusts. A large part of the firm also deals in the area of family law.

Region: Taranaki

Phone: 06 278 5039

James & Wells Intellectual Property

We’re intellectual property experts, but we are also business strategists, scientists, engineers, accountants, lawyers and commercialisation specialists.

We’re all committed to the same goal – making sure Kiwi innovation makes it big on the world stage. Why are we so passionate? Well, it’s sad but true, historically Kiwis haven’t made the most of their great ideas. Maybe because most people don’t realise that 80% of the value of their business is in intangible assets.

This is why we have focused our firm on helping our clients make the most of these valuable assets. 

Region: Waikato

Phone: 07 957 5660

Gawith Burridge

Gawith Burridge traces its history back to 1875 when Charles Gawith first set up his practice. Since then the firm has undergone many changes, including a merger between Gawith & Co and Burridge & Co in 1998 to form our current practice.

Our firm draws on the breadth of expertise available from some of the region’s most senior legal practitioners, as well as the skills of those who have moved here from larger corporate environments.

As a result, we provide clients with a comprehensive range of legal services right here in the Wairarapa. We can provide you with legal assistance whether you are an individual or a company, with everything from setting up a Will to selling your farming business. 

Region: Wairarapa

Phone: 06 370 0000

Johnston Lawrence Limited

We practise in the areas of business and property law, public law, dispute resolution and personal legal services.

Our partners each have specialist areas of expertise and are well known and respected both in the Wellington community and the legal profession. We also employ several associates who are also experienced in their areas of expertise.

Region: Wellington

Phone: 04 472 0940

Hannan & Seddon

The Law Firm of Hannan & Seddon dates back to September 1867.

The firm's offices were in Werita Street from 1867 until 1982 when the firm moved to Tarapuhi Street and then to its current spacious premises at 61 Guinness Street in 1998.

The name Hannan comes from Mr Michael Hannan whose son John Hannan (Jack) joined the firm in 1908. Jack Hannan remained in partnership until he passed away in 1974 at the age of 90!

The name Seddon comes from Mr T E Y Seddon (son of Premier Richard John Seddon from Kumara) who joined the firm in the 1920's. The other prominent Solicitor at Hannan & Seddon was Cyril McGinley who joined the firm in the late 1920’s and retired as a Consultant in 1997 aged 87.

Currently we have two Partners within our firm. Tony Sullivan who has been with us for 29 years and Colin Smith, 26 years. The firm also has two long serving Legal Executives Elaine Knowles and Beverley Walsh.  

Region: West Coast

Phone: 03 768 4169

All the information published on this website, or in any article herein is true and accurate to the best of the authors' knowledge. Information on this site should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by NZ LAW Limited, or individual NZ LAW member firms for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on information published on this site. Views expressed in any article are the views of the authors individually and do not necessarily reflect the view of NZ LAW or their member firms. Information appearing on this site may only be reproduced with prior approval from NZ LAW Limited Head Office, and credit being given to the source. © NZ LAW Limited