If you are about to embark on a round-the-world trip or need to go into the hospital for an extended period, you may consider signing a power of attorney (POA). This document allows another person to look after your affairs while you are absent or indisposed. You have the right to create a power of attorney in Louisiana if you live or have interests in the state.
About Power of Attorney in Louisiana
In Louisiana, a power of attorney is also known as a mandate or Contract of Mandate. The Louisiana Civil Code sets out the regulations governing the mandates in the state. Article 2989 of the Louisiana Civil Code defines a mandate as a contract where an individual, known as the principal, confers authority on another individual, known as the mandatory, to transact his affairs.
The law does not require a mandate to be in a specific statutory form. You can sign a general mandate, authorizing the principal to deal with all of your affairs, or limit the POA to specific matters such as selling a car or completing a tax return.
It is also worth noting that in Louisiana, power of attorney can also serve the common interests of a third party, such as a child.
Requirements for Power of Attorney in Louisiana
Louisiana law requires that a person be mentally competent at the time of signing a mandate. Most mandates also specify a date or event when the power will expire. If you don’t state a date or event, Article 3024 of the Louisiana Civil Code provides that the mandate will terminate upon the death of either the principal or the mandatory.
In some states, powers of attorney are no longer valid if the principal becomes incapacitated by mental illness. That is not the case in Louisiana: Article 3026 provides that the mandate will continue unless it expressly states otherwise in these circumstances.
Typically, a POA must be written down to be valid in the state of Louisiana. In addition, it must be notarized in the presence of two witnesses. The rule applies even if the document will be executed out of the state. And these witnesses must be at least 18 years old and mentally competent. Also, neither the principal nor the agent can become valid witnesses.
How the Power of Attorney in Louisiana works
According to Article 2994 of the Civil Code, a principal may confer general authority upon the mandatory to carry out all acts appropriate under the circumstances.
However, Article 2997 provides that he must give express authority to the mandatory to carry out certain specific acts. That law helps to protect the principal. Some of the actions that the principal must specify in a POA include:
- Making medical decisions
- Paying debts
- Securing all kinds of promissory notes
- Making donations
- Accepting or declining successions
All the above acts need to be written down to authorize the agent to act on the principal’s behalf concerning these matters. And if they are not written down, then the POA cannot enforce them.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing or conditional power of attorney does not come into force until either a particular date or the occurrence of a specified event, such as the disability of the principal. This document is known in Louisiana as a “conditional procuration.”
Article 3890 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes requires that the principal’s disability be certified by two physicians who have a license to practice medicine from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. These physicians should examine the principal in person. Alternatively, one such physician can also do so in the presence of the authorized agent if the POA permits that.
Since the laws governing a power of attorney in Louisiana are relatively strict, you need to ensure you get it right when creating the document. You can do so by finding online templates you can customize or consulting a legal professional to help you out. It is not a good idea to gamble with your life and interests when authorizing someone to act on your behalf.
- Louisiana State University: Louisiana Mandates - (Power of Attorney)
- Justia: 2019 Louisiana Laws Civil Code Art. 3024. Termination of the mandate and of the mandatary’s authority
- Losavio & DeJean: Form Requirements for Mandates (Powers of Attorney) In Louisiana
- Louisiana-Notary.Org: Mandate and Representation – Procuration may be conditional on disability
Based in the United Kingdom, Holly Cameron has been writing law-related articles since 1997. Her writing has appeared in the "Journal of Business Law." Cameron is a qualified lawyer with a Master of Laws in European law from the University of Strathclyde.