If anyone had told me when I started law school that my primary area of practice would be interdiction, I would have asked the same question that I often hear when I tell other people about my practice. "What is an interdiction?" Now, though, I have probably done more interdictions in the last four years than anyone else in the state of Louisiana.
An interdiction is the process of having the courts declare that someone is not competent to make his or her own decisions in one or more areas of life. The person may be sick and not be able to understand his illness so that he can make reasonable decisions about his medical care. Or she may no longer have the ability to manage her money appropriately, forgetting to pay bills or uncharacteristically giving away large sums of money. If only one of these areas is affected, the court may order a limited interdiction and appoint someone, usually a family member or friend, to make those decisions on his or her behalf. Often, a person can exhibit a deficiency in both of these categories and, thus, require a full interdiction. The person who is named as the decision maker is called a curator, and the court will issue Letters of Curatorship as evidence of the authority to act on behalf of the interdict. The court will also appoint an undercurator to monitor the actions of the curator and report back to the court.
An interdicted person is said to have suffered a judicial death, as he or she will normally be prohibited from engaging in some basic activities. For example, an interdict cannot marry, cannot legally sign a contract, and cannot drive. Because of the severity of this finding, obtaining a judgment of interdiction is not easy. The law requires clear and convincing evidence,the highest standard in civil law, that the defendant is not capable of consistently making reasonable and rational decisions about his person or property. Additionally, a curator must meet several criteria to be legally allowed to act on the interdict's behalf. When the interdict owns property, the curator is normally required to post security equal to the total value of the estate. The court will also likely appoint an attorney to represent the defendant's interests.
The way to avoid having to put yourself and your loved one through an interdiction proceeding is to make sure that he or she has signed a valid Power of Attorney. Otherwise, you will want to hire a seasoned attorney to help you through the interdiction process. An interdiction proceeding can be completed in as little as a few days, or it can drag on for several months. The court will require witnesses, usually at least one being a physician, who can testify to the decline of the proposed interdict's cognitive abilities. Incorrect or incomplete filings can stall the process and, even worse, can result in the imposition of monetary sanctions against the petitioner and his or her attorney. Please make sure that you don't take an unnecessary risk when looking for an attorney to file your interdiction. Be sure that this is his or her main area of practice and that this attorney has successfully obtained judgments of interdiction several times prior to filing yours.
At Blue Law Firm we hope that you will never need to interdict a loved one, but we are here to help you through the process if you find yourself in need. We have filed for and obtained a judgment of interdiction in over seventy cases in the last four years. These victories have taken place all over Southeastern Louisiana, including Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes. Our staff is successful because we are constantly practicing in this area of the law and take great pride in our knowledge and expertise in this field. If you have a loved one in need of an interdiction, call today and we will put our knowledge to work for you.