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Feeling like you are losing your short-term memory or getting increasingly confused can be frightening and difficult to acknowledge. It’s critical that you and your family take these signs seriously and act fast before it’s too late.
Here are some simple but important steps all adults should take to protect themselves and their families.
- Get a General Practitioner Assessment – Now
Visit your GP as soon as possible to get an assessment. The earlier they assess your mental capacity the better they can vouch for your clarity. If there’s ever an argument about the degree of impact and whether or not a person is mentally capable to make their own decisions about their finances or care, it’s important to have records at your GP that establish a baseline.
- Put in place an Enduring Power of Attorney
Assuming the GP considers you mentally capable, you need to urgently put in place an EPA for both your Property (finances) and Care and Welfare (healthcare). An EPA allows you to nominate a person(s) to sign legal documents for you, such as at the bank or hospital. With an EPA, your nominated person can then help you to manage your property and investments and to take care of your medical treatments and residence, if you become unable to manage these yourself.
IMPORTANT: You cannot create a valid EPA if you are judged by a medical practitioner to have lost your mental capacity. This means your family will need to go through the court to seek an order, before they can access your finances and healthcare affairs. Court proceedings add expense and time delays to distraught family members. Act before it’s too late.
- Schedule regular assessments with the same GP
By seeing the same GP and having an established baseline to measure against will help to ensure accurate diagnoses of loss of mental capacity. Your GP will act without bias and in your best interests when assessing your mental capability and may give you valid signing authority. This is particularly important if you are concerned about overbearing children who may have their own agendas and stand to benefit for an assessment that you are mentally incapable.
Many people do not wish for a stranger – such as a welfare guardian or property manager appointed by the court – to make decisions on their behalf. An EPA allows you to give clear directions and records of your preferences, to guide your nominated representative when you can no longer communicate them clearly.
This month, www.justly.co.nz is offering free use of its DIY EPA docume
nt builder. They have made completing the documents quick and easy. You can click here to use Justly to make an EPA. You can also access a nationwide network of law firms specialising in EPAs at a fixed fee to certify the documents.