Louisiana Power of Attorney
In Louisiana, power of attorney is often called a “mandate” and is considered a crucial estate planning tool. The purpose of a power of attorney is to permit a person to act as an agent, or mandatary, on your behalf as the principal. A mandatary or representative can use a power of attorney to make financial, medical, parenting, real estate, tax or other decisions on the principal’s behalf.
After the power of attorney is executed, the mandatary is bound to act with prudence and diligence. The agent is responsible for any loss that the principal sustains if he or she fails to perform properly or exceeds authority. If you are in need of creating or updating your power of attorney, we can help.
General versus Specific Power of Attorney
In Louisiana, a power of attorney is “durable” unless otherwise indicated. This means it remains in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated. Often times, the risk of incapacitation is the reason a principal wants to confer power of attorney in the first place. Powers of attorney can be “general” meaning they are in effect for all of the principal’s financial affairs, or they can be “specific” for limited matters. La. Civ. Code arts. 2996 and 2997 list a number of acts that require express authority in a specific power of attorney. Among them include the authority to deal with real estate and to make healthcare decisions.
Two of the most common specific mandates that we draft for clients are the “special power of attorney to alienate, acquire, encumber, or lease immovable property” and the “healthcare power of attorney”. The former is useful if a principal knows they are going to be out of town for a real estate closing and need someone trusted to sign certain documents for them. It is also useful in the event of becoming incapacitated. It is imperative that the principal carefully choose a trusted representative.
The “healthcare power of attorney” comes in handy if a principal cannot speak for themselves. It differs from a living will in that the principal does not need to be at the end of their life for the representative to make medical decisions. For example, if the principal needs a life-saving surgery, but is unable to speak to give their consent then the mandatary can consent for them rather than having to go through the courts which could waste valuable time.
A principal can revoke a power of attorney at any time. The mandate can also expire on its own if it has a time limit or specifies the occurrence of a certain condition. Powers of attorney also expire on the death or interdiction of the principal or mandatary. If a well-crafted power of attorney exists, an interdiction may not be necessary. However, if a mandatary steps down while a principal is incapacitated, a court may hold an interdiction proceeding. In that case, the court will determine who should be the curator for the principal.
New Orleans Estate Planning Attorneys
Bowes, Petkovich & Palmer, LLC is a Gretna law firm that has served the New Orleans area since 1980. Our experienced estate planning lawyers can analyze your situation and advise you which powers of attorney will best suit your needs. We take pride in offering a personal and trusted experience. Call us today for a free consultation and find out why so many of our clients come back to us.