Charlotte Lockhart: When travelling overseas, who has the authority to manage your debt?

Publish Date
Thursday, 14 September 2017, 4:55PM

By Charlotte Lockhart, Perpetual Guardian Consumer Advocate

Life is a journey. We explore and travel, enjoy new experiences and create memories. While travelling and going on adventures is a love for many, we need to ensure that our day-to-day, mundane responsibilities and commitments are looked after while we are away.

Imagine going on an overseas trip of a lifetime and due to unforeseen circumstances you are unable to manage your mortgage or credit card responsibilities back home. A loved one contacts your bank or financial institution on your behalf to authorise the release or provide funds to meet these debts, but the request is denied. Why? Unless you have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), that person is unable to act on your behalf.

Without an EPA, no one has the authority to carry out your wishes. Although you may have the resources to meet your debts and commitments there is no legal authority for them other than you, and this could adversely affect your credit rating.

There are two types of EPA, one for property and one for personal care and welfare.

Property – your appointed ‘attorney’ can manage your financial affairs to ensure your property is taken care of, your bills are paid and investments are managed. For this reason, it’s imperative you have complete faith and confidence that your appointee is knowledgeable enough to act in your interests, in accordance with your wishes and without bias.

If you become ill and cannot look after your own property matters, without an EPA in place, it falls to your family to apply to the Court for an order to appoint a property manager. This process can be long, arduous and expensive.

Personal Care and Welfare – the nominated person (‘attorney’), usually a close friend or family member is responsible for making important decisions with regard to your care and well-being in the event you become too ill to take care of yourself. These decisions may be in the form of medical decisions, accommodation arrangements, and other personal needs.

By completing an EPA, you can have peace of mind that all responsibilities and obligations are being met back home.  

About Charlotte:

Charlotte Lockhart is a business leader with more than 25 years’ experience in multiple industries locally and offshore. She watches out for the estate planning interests of New Zealanders in her capacity as a consumer advocate at Consumer Voice. Charlotte’s goal is to break down some of the perceived barriers and raise awareness by engaging with a variety of media and stakeholders.

In a previous role, Charlotte was head of partnerships and marketing at Perpetual Guardian (New Zealand’s leading trustee services company). During her time with Perpetual Guardian, Charlotte designed and implemented the new brand strategy and installed the new sales team across New Zealand. Perpetual Guardian believes that every adult New Zealander should have a Will and that every child deserves the protection of one.

Charlotte has an extensive background beyond the fiduciary services market, having worked in the financial and legal services sectors earlier in her career. In her 12 years with Mike Pero Mortgages, she won awards for her advisory services. She is passionate about ensuring New Zealanders protect their families and themselves from financial and legal problems which can often be avoided with a little planning.


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