The Basics of the Power of Attorney


The Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a document that allows you to share your legal powers that you have with other people. “Power” in this case usually means something like the power to sign a contract, the power to withdraw money from an account, the power to vote on stock in a corporation, or the power to collect debts that are owed. A general power of attorney is a document necessary to allow someone to take care of your personal business when you are not able to. Someone with a general power of attorney can manage a checking account, open mail, pay bills, and buy or sell assets on your behalf just as if they were you.

Louisiana Terms for a Power of Attorney

The power of attorney is technically known as the “mandate” in Louisiana. I heard that the reason they changed the name of the document from “power of attorney” to “mandate” was to avoid the confusion of the word “attorney.” The “attorney” in this case is not the same as an attorney at law. But, in changing the name, they just introduced new sources of confusion. People pretty much know what a power of attorney is, but this new “mandate” thing, not so much. As a result, the documents are still often titled “Power of Attorney.”

The person who grants a mandate to someone is called a “principal.” The person the principal gives the power to is called a “mandatary.” The mandatary is the person that a power of attorney would call an “agent.”

The General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney is a document necessary to allow someone to take care of your personal business when you are not able to. Someone with a general power of attorney can manage a checking account, open mail, pay bills, and buy or sell assets on your behalf just as if they were you.

You Do Not Lose the Powers You Give in a Power of Attorney

Giving someone a power of attorney is not a transfer of a power in the sense that your giving your power to them so that you no longer have it. You still have your powers, but the other person can step in or handle certain situations if needed just as if they were you.

The Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is automatically “durable” in Louisiana. That is, it automatically functions the same way a “durable power of attorney” does. A durable power of attorney means that the power is still active even if you are currently unable to exercise the power yourself. This can happen if you are incapacitated for some reason, such as being in a coma, being in surgery, or being on medications that are so strong that your judgment isn’t clear, or if you are suffering from dementia.

Every Adult Should Have a Power of Attorney

Everybody with legal capacity needs a power of attorney because emergencies happen. Situations happen where you may be in an accident or you may be suffering from a degenerative condition where your going to need help, and the power of attorney is what gives people the power to help you.

A Power of Attorney Does Not Survive Death

It needs to be noted that a durable power of attorney does not survive the death of the principal. A will or a trust is needed to carry out your wishes after death. It also is terminated if the agent is interdicted.


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