Question Details: My parents are getting older and I've heard other people saying it is a good idea to get a 'power of attorney' form done in case they end up incapable of making their own decisions about their health and their property. Is there a form to download? Can they do it for free? Do they have to see a lawyer?
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The type of power of attorney you are asking about is called an "enduring power of attorney" (EPA) which will give a nominated person (the "attorney") power to act on behalf of your parents if your parents become mentally incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. (This is distinct from an "ordinary power of attorney" which would give the attorney power to act on your parents' behalf, but only while your parents retained mental capacity.) An EPA can relate to the care and welfare of your parents, or to the property owned by your parents.
Your parents can get the forms and other useful documents from the Office of Senior Citizens by clicking here: www.msd.govt.nz.
BUT your parents will need to see a lawyer or trustee company (like Public Trust) in order to make the documents legally effective. This person will need to sign a certificate saying that they witnessed your parents' signatures and advised your parents, otherwise the documents will have no legal effect. Many firms and companies have a set fee they charge for this service.
There are quite a few things to think about when making an EPA, so we suggest your parents do some reading. Click here to read a resource prepared by Community Law and Age Concern: www.communitylaw.org.nz
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