Setting your EPA on Automatic

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Setting your EPA on Automatic

The EPA or Enduring Power Attorney is an integral part of your estate plan.  The EPA is a document that allows you, as the maker, to appoint someone (called the Attorney) to manage your financial matters when you have lost mental capacity.  The EPA endures from the date of incapacity until death.  There are 2 types of EPA’s: Springing and Automatic.  A Springing EPA comes into effect when one or two doctors provide written confirmation that you have lost mental capacity.

Generally speaking, a Springing EPA is suited for people who are generally younger, and who have no physical or mental health issues.  Not surprising, people who have Springing EPA’s tend to get older over time.  A number of these people may experience a decline in their mental and/or physical health.  This decline can make it difficult for a person to continue to manage their own banking or financial matters.  For example, a person can have excellent mental health, but have quite limited mobility due to a physical disability.  Their physical health prevents them from managing their financial affairs.  A spouse or child may wish to help their spouse/parent(s), but the Springing EPA does not allow them to do so.  Greater complications arise if the child who wants to assist their parent lives in a different city.

If these situations apply to you, it may be time to consider replacing your Springing EPA with an Automatic EPA.  An Automatic EPA allows you to appoint someone who can assist you with your financial matters immediately.  A benefit of the Automatic EPA is that you also continue to retain the ability to make financial decisions (as long as you have capacity), so either the maker or the Attorney can make the financial decisions.  This option works well for a person who wants to maintain their independence on some financial decisions, but have assistance on other financial matters.  However, once you lose mental capacity, only the Attorney can make your financial decisions.  Switching to an Automatic EPA can reduce the stress that occurs in some situations where a person loses capacity due to a sudden event (like a stroke, for example).  As the Automatic EPA does not require medical confirmation to come into effect, the transfer of decision-making is seamless.  The Attorney, in this case, should notify the bank that the loss of capacity has occurred, so that the maker is not making withdrawals or purchases at a time when they do not have capacity and may be easily influenced by others.  Talk to your lawyer to see if an Automatic EPA can enhance your estate plan.

Les Scholly
Les Scholly helps you navigate the turning points of life. He is a partner with Pritchard & Co. Law Firm, LLP and member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). Contact Les at 403-527-4411 or at