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Now You See It – Now You Don’t: The Impact of Form on Substance

Non-lawyers often assume that they can sign a document requiring notarization and then have another person bring it to their lawyer later to notarize the signature. This practice is strictly forbidden by Louisiana law. In Eschete v. Eschete, 2012 CA 2059, Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, a husband was able to void his donation to his wife of his interest in the family home because the notary and witnesses were not in the room when he signed it. The act of donation was signed at Ms. Eschete’s lawyer’s office. Mr. Eschete signed it in the presence of a secretary. However, the notary and the other witness, although they were nearby in other rooms, were not physically present in the room where the donation was signed by Mr. Eschete. No one disputed that eventually all of the necessary signatures wound up on the document. Mr. Eschete did not deny that he had signed it. The issue was strictly whether the act of donation was in “authentic form”. If it was, it was binding on Mr. Eschete. If it was not, Mr. Eschete was entitled to have it nullified. After hearing the testimony, the trial judge found that the notary and one of the witnesses had not actually seen Mr. Eschete sign the donation. He granted Mr. Eschete’s petition and set the donation aside. Litigants in domestic proceedings involving community property are often called upon to sign “authentic acts”. You should be aware that the notary and the two witnesses must see your signature being affixed to the document. The inconvenience of waiting until all of the necessary signatories are present before the document is executed is small compared to the possible consequences if you do not comply with the law regarding authentic acts.

What Our Clients Say
★★★★★
I highly recommend Louis
I hired Louis to represent me in my custody battle. From the start he was upfront and honest with me, if he said he was going to do something he did it and he never attempted to settle for anything less than what I was asking. He was not afraid to go head to head with opposing counsel which is what we ended up having to do. Thanks to Louis and his experience and knowledge of family law we won our case. I highly recommend Louis and will always use him for my future family Court needs.
Caleb
★★★★★
Brilliant Mind and Excellent Communication
I had no idea how to even look for an attorney when I found myself needing one. Mr. Cosenza is the best attorney I have encountered, and I took a lot of time finding one. He is brilliant in matters of the law. He approached my case from every angle. I am so thankful he was my attorney. I started out knowing absolutely nothing about court related matters. He answered even my smallest questions and guided me through to understand what was best for me and my children. He was excellent in communication with quick replies. He will have all of my recommendations.
Becky
★★★★★
Attorney Cosenza at his craft
My journey with Mr. Cosenza began nearly 3 years ago when I contacted him about divorce proceedings. During our initial consultation he told me exactly what to expect and we discussed cost, which I thought reasonable. After retaining him as my attorney and finalizing my divorce, things became fairly intense during the negotiation of the property settlement; yet he was relentless and tenacious. In the end, we prevailed victorious and everything came together perfectly. Attorney Cosenza always responded in a timely manner to my many calls, emails and texts. He gave clear, detailed, rational explanations of what I could expect. His work on my case has been life changing, in the best way possible. I am forever in his debt.
Sean
★★★★★
He does his very best
Working with Louis Cosenza truly helped to make my very difficult emotional and legal situation feel much more comfortable as I knew his experience and expertise was there to support and guide me. He knows the law and he does his very best to use that knowledge to represent his clients in and out of the courtroom.
Craig
★★★★★
Hands down the best experience I’ve had with a lawyer
I would like to start by saying I am from TX and my ex wife tried to file a judgment in LA. I contacted a number of lawyers that explained to me that this maybe a process that they could look into. I spoke with Mr. Cosenza with his 30 plus year of experience and he assured me this was not going to be a issue. He was very informative on the proceedings that where going to take place. He couldn’t have called it any better. There wasn’t even a need for me to travel to show in court. It is definitely worth a little extra to hire one of the best. I hope I hope won’t be needing his help again but if I do need another lawyer in LA. I won’t hesitate to contact him and he will be my lawyer again.
Michael