Protecting vulnerable people – can they sign? A guest article by Murdoch Price Solicitors
A Power of Attorney is a document in which you ask someone you trust to act on your behalf as regards your personal affairs. The difference between an “enduring” power of attorney and an ordinary one is that the former continues even after you become mentally unable to deal with your affairs.
We regard the Enduring Power of Attorney (‘EPA’) as one of the most important and cost effective legal steps you can take to help yourself and those you care about. Nobody can know what’s around the corner. An accident or sudden illness may arise at any time. By then it may be too late to make one. It is wrong to think that EPAs are just for older people.
Without an EPA, relatives of a person who cannot manage their own affairs will find looking after them much more difficult. If it were you, they will not be able to give consent to medical treatment on your behalf, or manage your finances for you. At best this can be extremely frustrating, but often the consequence of not having an EPA is that an application must be made to the Court on your behalf to appoint a manager. This is time consuming and more expensive than the cost of making an EPA.
We often see people try to make an EPA too late, after they have lost the ability to deal with their affairs. By then Murdoch Price cannot give the necessary certification for a person to make one. We think it fairer on you and on your loved ones to prioritise making an EPA now to save expense and heartache later.
When is a Court Order needed?
The Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act provides for the protection and promotion of the personal and property rights of persons who are not fully able to manage their own affairs. If a person affected does not have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in place and lacks competence to give proper instructions or sign a document then a Court order is required that provides a means of guardianship for adult persons and for management of property where people are unable to manage their own affairs.
The first step is to obtain a medical report from a doctor or other medical professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. There are a variety of circumstances rendering a person incompetent to handle their own affairs and the reasons for the incapacity and the circumstances when it arises will mean differing approaches.
If a person has capacity in some areas but not in others, then the appropriate order is a personal order. Personal Orders can be made for all purposes set out including living arrangements, medical treatment, education, rehabilitative therapy etc.
A welfare guardian may make and implement decisions in relation to the affected person’s personal care and welfare including where they live and their medical treatment. The Court will only appoint a welfare guardian where the person wholly lacks the capacity to make or communicate decisions relating to any aspects of their personal care and welfare.
A property manager is required where the affected person has assets over $5,000 in value or an annual income of over $20,000. The property manager is required to file a statement of assets and liabilities within 3 months of appointment and then an annual statement with the Court.
Monteck Carter understands how important it is to work with fellow professionals. We thank Murdoch Price for allowing us to share this very informative article with you. Their focus is to provide legal services at a personal level for individual clients and families together with small and medium businesses and some larger businesses. Contact Murdoch Price on 09 271 5880