Age Concern welcomes power of attorney changes
Age Concern, the organisation supporting the rights of older people, has welcomed Senior Citizens Minister Jo Goodhew’s decision to streamline and reduce the barriers to setting up an enduring power of attorney (EPA).
An EPA gives a person (or people of your choice) the right to make decisions about your property, care and welfare if you lose the ability to do so yourself.
The minister announced plans to simplify the EPA process following a review of the 2007 amendments to the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act that relate to enduring powers of attorney which found there was room for significant improvement.
Robyn Scott, chief executive of Age Concern New Zealand, believes the minister’s announcement is a positive step towards protecting the rights of all New Zealanders, especially older citizens.
‘‘The EPA is very important to all New Zealanders, especially older people who want to have confidence that their wishes will be carried out in later life,’’ Scott says.
‘‘In June last year, Age Concern made a submission to the Ministry of Social Development highlighting key areas in the EPA process we believe require improvement. We know that reducing set-up costs and EPA application waiting times will make a difference. We also need to make sure we improve monitoring of attorneys so they act in the donor’s best interests.
‘‘Age Concern’s Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Service coordinators frequently experience cases of conflict when a power of attorney has been challenged by the donor, or the donor’s family. Concerns are often raised when they believe the EPA has not managed their assets in a transparent manner, for example, by not keeping records of each financial transaction.
‘‘The situation can be compounded by a donor who is not able to act as a reliable witness which means it is unlikely police can intervene to stop this financial abuse,’’ says Scott.
‘‘We believe there needs to be a provision within the EPA Act requiring a person nominated as attorney to undergo a credit check to ensure they are not bankrupt before being activated as the donor’s EPA. Which would mark a strong step towards protecting the donor from abuse.’’