Age Con­cern wel­comes power of at­tor­ney changes

Central Leader - - HEALTH& WELL-BEING -

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.’’

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