By Charlotte Lockhart, Perpetual Guardian Consumer Advocate
Life often throws us some curve balls. No one knows what is around the corner or what could be in front of us. Imagine you develop dementia and are no longer able to manage your finances by yourself. Should you be unable or unwilling to manage your financial affairs, including debt, who will be able to step into your shoes and take care of this for you?
The importance of an Enduring Power of Attorney
We often think of an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) when managing our assets, but it can also help manage your debts when you are physically unable to.
The Future of New Zealand’s Estate Planning, an independent research report commissioned by Perpetual Guardian, found that one-third of adult New Zealanders (35 per cent) do not know what an EPA is, and almost two-thirds (64 per cent) do not have one.
Unless you have an EPA, no one has the legal authority to make decisions or take control of your financial affairs for you. Having one can avoid potential issues such as the inability to access your finances and meeting any debt repayments or financial commitments you may have.
If you don’t have an EPA then an application to the Court is required. This takes considerable time and money. In that time, commitments and liabilities will continue and potential loss of assets could result in an inability to meet your commitments.
By having an EPA you are providing peace of mind for loved ones, who can be assured that any available funds can be used to ensure any debt repayment and other obligations are being met and assets therefore protected.
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.