Many people don’t use the Power of Attorney documents because they are not fully understood. Every state has its own civil codes that govern Power of Attorney documents. Before you can trust that your documents will be valid and complete, it is important to speak with an estate planning lawyer in the state where you reside. These are common misconceptions regarding Louisiana Power of Attorney documents and the truths an experienced Shreveport estate planning attorney can help you to understand.
On the Internet, you can easily find a Power of Attorney document
You don’t have to search the internet for something just because it is available. Just like any other legal document, Power of Attorney documents should be tailored to your particular needs. Fill-in-the-blank legal documents can be confusing and open to interpretation. This is not what you want in a legally binding document. You also have the possibility that an internet document may not be legally binding in your state, or fail to meet certain requirements.
The power of attorney grants the agent the right to do whatever they please with your estate.
A power of attorney in Louisiana means you can designate an agent. Although they can have certain powers and perform certain actions, it does not give them the right to do what they like. Agents who act under the Power of Attorney have an obligation to act in the best interests of the principal party (you), and this is commonly called a fiduciary obligation. Not all agents should be trusted. The fiduciary obligation is meant to be a backup, not the primary line of defense.
There is only one standard power of attorney
Although the power of attorney document is governed by the principal, it is important to have an estate planning attorney draft the documents. This will ensure that your wishes are fulfilled.
There are two main types of Power of Attorney documents: Limited and General.
Type 1: This is a General Power of Attorney that governs all powers included in a Power Of Attorney, such as the purchase or sale of property or managing assets. The specific language of the power granted will vary depending on the document. A Power of Attorney’s power is specific, especially if it is custom-drafted (which they should be). To verify that the required powers have been granted, the agent must review the Power of Attorney document.
Type 2: A limited or special power of attorney that grants less powers. One example is a Power of Attorney that only grants the power of completing a real property sale for the title of one home.
A Power of Attorney document is terminated upon the principal’s incapacitation
This is true for most states but not Louisiana. Louisiana law allows a Power of Attorney to remain in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated. (LA civil code article 3026).
These and other minor differences in the state’s civil code make it unwise to trust legal documents printed online. To ensure that legal documents are accurate and valid, it is best to have an experienced attorney from your state prepare them.
The moment the document is signed, the agent receives power of attorney.
If a specific date/event is not specified in the Power of Attorney documents then this may apply. You can, however, choose to use what’s known as a “springing” or “conditional” Power of Attorney.
You must specify under what circumstances/after what events you want a conditional power of attorney to be effective. These are usually used when you want to grant an agent Power of Attorney only in the event that you become incapacitated or disabled. Louisiana law stipulates that in the event of the principal becoming disabled, an affidavit must be signed stating that the principal is unable to make or communicate reasonable decisions regarding the care and maintenance of his or her property. The affidavit must be signed by two physicians. If the power of attorney allows, the affidavit can be signed by both one physician and the agent.
Requirements to Power of Attorney
To ensure your power of attorney is valid, make sure you meet all requirements. Louisiana requires that all documents be notarized. Even copies must be certified through the original power of attorney. It doesn’t matter whether your wishes are to be executed in Louisiana, or elsewhere. The original, notarized power of attorney must be kept by your agent and presented when you conduct business for the estate.
Contact a Shreveport Estate Planning Attorney at Bowie & Beresko APLC
Bowie & Beresko APLC can help you learn more about Power of Attorneys in Louisiana. Our team has years of experience and is ready to answer any questions you may have. For a free consultation, call us at 318-221-0600.