Powers of Attorney, Continuing Tutorships, and Interdictions are all ways that that one person can be made legally responsible for making decisions on behalf of another person. Normally, any adult who has reached the age of 18 can legally make decisions for himself, vote, get married, etc. In many different situations, it is useful for somebody to give a friend or family member permission to act on their behalf for financial, legal, or medical purposes. This agreement may be just for a short while or it may be long term.
Power of Attorney
When someone is voluntarily giving this kind of permission to another person, we typically use a Power of Attorney agreement. This document can be customized to define exactly what authority it conveys. Having Power of Attorney forms completed for adult family members means that in an emergency somebody will be able to handle their important matters without court involvement.
In some situations, it is appropriate to have a judge grant one person authority over another. In these situations, the legal processes we use are Continuing Tutorships (for individuals who have not yet turned 18) and Interdiction (for adults over 18.)
When your child turns 18, can you still talk to his doctors? Talk to his teachers? Make medical decisions? Talk to his financial institutions? Talk to SSI/Medicaid on his behalf? Sign contracts, leases, etc. on his behalf? In most cases, you cannot, unless your adult child gives you permission through a power of attorney. If your child has a disability that makes it necessary for you to continue to act in a parental role, you might want a stronger document than a power of attorney. A continuing tutorship is one such legal document wherein the court approves a parent’s request to continue acting with parental authority after the child turns 18. This option is unique to Louisiana, and it can only be obtained for individuals with disabilities who have reached the age of 16 but not yet turned 18. It is a much simpler legal process than a full interdiction.
When an individual turns 18, they obtain all the legal rights of an adult (unless there is a legal continuing tutorship in place before their birthday.) In extreme situations where it is necessary to take away some of those rights, a legal interdiction is needed. This is a complicated legal proceeding that involves at least one hearing before a judge, and the individual who is being interdicted is entitled to their own attorney separate from the attorney hired by the person seeking interdiction. It can take a long time to have a court attorney appointed for the defendant, and they may have to undergo court-ordered medical examination to determine their ability to make decisions for themselves. Sometimes it is necessary to undergo an interdiction to protect someone from being harmed by others or themselves.