A couple created Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPOAs) in relation to Property to each other when they first got married, meaning they had the right to make decisions about each other’s affairs if the other of them was not able to do so. 

The couple later separated.  They dealt with division of their assets in a Separation Agreement but completely forgot that they had earlier prepared EPOAs. 

Years later, the husband realised when he came to preparing new EPOAs with a new lawyer, in favour of his new partner, that his ex-wife still had power to make decisions about his affairs as he hadn’t revoked the previous EPOA. 

There a few key things to note in relation to revoking EPOAs:

  • The right to revoke an EPOA at any time while the donor (the person who has given the power) has mental capacity is one of the key rights that come with an EPOA.
  • The revocation must be completed in writing and delivered to the person appointed as attorney under the EPOA.  There is a specific form for this notice.
  • A new EPOA does not automatically revoke an earlier one.
  • EPOAs are not automatically revoked by marriage, separation or divorce.  They remain in place despite those events occurring.

It was a stressful process trying to locate the whereabouts of his ex-wife to notify her that he was revoking her powers under the EPOA.  This could have been avoided if they had both revoked the documents at the time they separated.

It pays to review your EPOAs after any major event in your life, in the same way as you would review your Will.  The consequences of not doing so could be huge, especially in a situation like a separation, given the large amount of power that is given to the Attorney under an EPOA.

Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.