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When a person loses capacity it is usually a lot simpler to deal with any financial and legal decisions where that person has appointed an attorney via an enduring power of attorney (financial). This is part of the advice often given by practitioners to clients. It is not clear how many practitioners have taken their own advice.

While it is not compulsory to appoint an attorney like it is in New Zealand pursuant to the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (NZ) or the Law Practitioners Act 1982 (NZ) as part of the management of risks in their own law office practitioners should consider the need to appoint an attorney for themselves. This is especially important where the practitioner is a sole practitioner.

Appointing an attorney will minimise delay in managing the sole practitioner’s practice and reduce the risk of a mistake occurring in the time it takes to appoint a manager.

Reviewing the Sole Practitioner Power of Attorney Guidelines issued by the New Zealand Law Society may assist practitioners to understand other matters which need to be considered. You should also be aware of the LSB+C Practice Contingency Planning Policy.

Appointing an attorney should be seen as part of a practitioner’s succession plan. This plan should also include making a will that properly deals with the legal practice. Additionally, practitioners should consider the need to obtain death and/or incapacity insurance.

The LPLC article When a sole practitioner dies published in the May 2015 edition of the LIJ contains information about succession planning and sorting out a legal practice on the death of a sole practitioner.