Powers of Attorney (Mandates)
In estate planning and long-term care planning, having a valid and comprehensive Power of Attorney is critical. In Louisiana, a Power of Attorney is called a Mandate. It is a legal contract that gives another person or persons (called the Agent) the ability to handle your affairs. It allows them to make financial decisions, medical decisions, or both. Moreover, you can grant the power to handle financial matters to one person, while granting the power to make your medical decisions to another person. Generally, you are not giving up any rights by signing a Power of Attorney. The contract can usually be revoked. There is no “Durable Power of Attorney” in Louisiana, as, unless otherwise stated, all contracts of Mandate survive incapacity. They become invalid upon death.
Internet legal forms are not the way to go with any legal document, and a Power of Attorney is no exception. Louisiana’s law is different than every other state’s laws. Do not rely on a notary’s form. Increasingly, Louisiana courts are finding legal documents prepared by non-lawyers (including notaries) and out-of-state lawyers null and void – after it’s too late to do anything about it. For example, after a person becomes incapacitated (e.g., after a stroke), they are no longer legally able to sign a Power of Attorney. So, if the form Power of Attorney you relied on is missing important language or is worded incorrectly because it was not tailored to your specific situation, it cannot be changed. That could result in expensive and protracted interdiction proceedings and unnecessary family strife.
Moreover, those few dollars you may have saved by using a canned document could prohibit meaningful estate planning, and cause the family to incur tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary nursing home or medical costs. It happens all the time.
It is important that you choose your agent wisely. However, if your agent breaches his duites against you, then Louisiana law provides substantial remedies.