Leaving things until the last minute is a bad habit many of us are guilty of. Which is why the Public Trust is asking people to get in early.
Public Trust CEO Glenys Talivai stresses the importance of appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), earlier rather than later.
"New Zealanders find it hard to talk about money and the challenges around financial literacy. Combine this with the fact all of us will eventually die and what will happen, and this can be quite a frightening conversation for some of us to have."
Glenys says there's peace of mind when an EPA is put in place.
"There's a sense of accomplishment. It's quite meaningful as there's a lot of fulfilment going through that process and answering those tough questions."
She says many of us have the Kiwi attitude of "she'll be right".
"We tend to think we all have plenty of time. It's often not until something happens or there's some sort of event, that we take action. Waiting for things to happen is tempting fate."
EPA is a legal document where a person decides who will make decisions for them if you are unable to make them yourself. EPAs are divided into two categories — property and finance and personal care and welfare.
"Basically you choose someone and it can be the same person for both."
Care and welfare decisions which may need to be made on a person's behalf include whether you want to be resuscitated or not and what medical treatment you might need to receive should you have an accident. Decisions about someone's property or finance can be around paying their bills.
"Appointing an EPA or an entity like the Public Trust while you're well is really important. If you're deemed to no longer have the capacity to make decisions for yourself and you don't have an EPA in place, your family may have to go to court to access finances. Having one in place takes the stress off the situation. Even if you're not incapacitated, but overseas and can't physically sign something, your EPA can do that for you."
Dementia HB community liaison Katrina Simmonds also sees the importance of EPAs in her everyday work.
"We encourage people to stop and think — 'Have I got that sorted'?"
Katrina says we need to be very considered when deciding who to appoint as our EPA. And she also believes we need to keep looking back to see if that person is still the right choice.
"As we age we need to be aware of the stages in life and who we have appointed. We should have periods in our life where we re-evaluate. That person might no longer be appropriate."
She believes it would be helpful when applying for superannuation, to have a checklist.
"Have you got your an EPA? Have you done your will?"
Katrina walks the talk, having had an EPA appointed when her and her husband bought their first house.
"It needs to be someone you trust when you can't speak for yourself. They need to know you well enough to make the hard decisions for you."
She has had a lot of conversations with people in her work who have had a diagnosis of dementia and don't have an EPA in place.
"I try and raise the subject at the first meeting. There is a window of opportunity when they are still cognitively able."
She says they sometimes need to act quickly to get one in place.
"Do this for your loved ones. Have some thought about the future, where you might be in a situation where you can't speak for yourself. Who would you trust?"
Appointing an EPA can be done through a lawyer or the Public Trust. For more information contact your lawyer, Public Trust or Citizens Advice Bureau.