Powers of Attorney

New Orleans Power of Attorney

Few of us ever imagine a situation in which we may be unable to make legal or financial decisions about our own affairs or be unable to provide informed consent for medical treatment. However, if you are a military service member or facing a life-threatening disease or high-risk surgery, you may be acutely aware of this possibility.

Regardless of your current state, it is critical that every adult have a power of attorney — a legal document that designates a person who you trust to act as an agent who has the authority to make legal, financial and/or medical decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney, along with a living will, can provide you with valuable peace of mind that you are in good hands and your medical wishes will be complied with.

Having a power of attorney is not just reserved for those who are incapable of making their own medical decisions — it can be used to designate another person to make financial decisions on your behalf, if you are incapacitated or simply unavailable.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a document that gives another person the power to make financial, legal and/or medical decisions on your behalf. In Louisiana, a power of attorney is known as a mandate or procuration.

A power of attorney may be durable, springing or conditional. A durable power of attorney is effective from the moment it is executed and continues to be effective if you become incapacitated. A springing power of attorney only comes into effect when you become incapacitated. Lastly, a conditional power of attorney is one that takes effect after a certain condition is met. For example, if the power of attorney is conditioned upon you becoming disabled, the power of attorney will take effect after two physicians certify that you are disabled.

A power of attorney can also be general or limited. A general power of attorney grants your agent the power to make any of the decisions that you would be able to make on your behalf, whereas a limited power of attorney grants this authority in limited circumstances that you set forth.

When do you need a power of attorney?

There are many situations in which an individual may require or benefit from a power of attorney. Often, a power of attorney is put in place to prepare for the possibility or occurrence of future illness or incapacitation.

Before a member of the military is sent on a deployment, they often create a power of attorney to allow their spouse, family member or close friend to make legal and financial decisions on their behalf while they are deployed. Should they experience a medical emergency and become incapacitated, they may also assign that person or a different individual to hold power of attorney to make decisions about their medical care.

Others may create a power of attorney in the early stages of a life-threatening illness or onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Knowing that they will likely lose capacity to make legal, financial and medical decisions in the future, creating a power of attorney while they still have capacity to do so allows these individuals to leave important decisions about their money, assets and health care to someone they trust.

The benefits of a power of attorney can also be used for matters of convenience rather than necessity. For example, you can give power of attorney to someone like an executive assistant to handle a real estate deal or other personal financial or legal matters.

Do I need a lawyer to designate a power of attorney?

You can execute a power of attorney without the assistance of an attorney; however, it is much more beneficial to seek the counsel of an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney to ensure your power of attorney is properly drafted and executed.

Can I change my power of attorney?

Yes. A power of attorney can be revoked at any time and you can designate a new individual to hold power of attorney over your legal, financial or medical decisions.

Can I grant power of attorney to more than one agent?

Yes. You may grant power of attorney to more than one agent, however, the legal document(s) you create should make each agent’s scope of authority clear. It is possible to give more than one agent concurrent or dual powers, which means that they have equal authority to make decision on your behalf.

If you will be extending power of attorney to more than one individual, it is crucial that you work closely with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that the authority granted to each agent is as you intend.

Consult an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

At Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, our skilled and experienced team of estate planning attorneys has helped countless clients create and properly execute a power of attorney prior military deployments, in the wake of serious health concerns and for other personal intentions. When you choose to work with us, we will devote our time and expertise to making sure your affairs and medical decisions will be in the hands of an individual you trust — should you every require their assistance and decision-making power. For a complimentary consultation with one of our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys, contact us today at (504) 523-6496.

Call Now: 504-523-6496