A mental health care power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person(s) to make future mental health care decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. It is an important part of a comprehensive estate plan.
Why Do You Need a Mental Health Power of Attorney?
A mental health power of attorney is a critical document to include in your estate plan if you live in Phoenix. It allows you to ensure that your mental health needs are met in the future. It is needed in addition to the health care power of attorney because in Arizona regular health care powers of attorney do not include the authority to make mental health decisions.
Without a health care power of attorney, your family will be forced to get emergency guardianship through the courts if you need mental health treatment but are unwilling or unable to consent due to your psychiatric condition. The emergency guardianship court process can be stressful and time-consuming. Although it is possible to get before a judge within 24-48 hours, any delay can be extremely detrimental to an individual’s mental health if they need care immediately.
If you or your family has a history of mental illness, a mental health care power of attorney is a document that you want prepared. However, you do not need a history of mental illness to be at risk. For instance, behavioral issues that accompany Alzheimer’s or dementia may require mental health treatment, or you could have an adverse reaction to a medication that unexpectedly affects your mood or behavior. Even if you don’t end up needing the power of attorney, it does not hurt to be prepared.
When are You Determined to be Incapacitated?
Mental health powers of attorney only go into effect when you are determined to be incapacitated. When you lack capacity, you are unable to comprehend information, make decisions, or communicate your desires. In Phoenix, this decision can only be made after the evaluation of a specialist in neurology or an Arizona licensed psychiatrist or psychologist.
What Should You Include in a Mental Health Power of Attorney in Phoenix?
It is important to speak to an estate planning attorney when creating a mental health power of attorney to ensure that it is comprehensive and fits your unique needs. In addition to naming your agent(s), you should include your wishes about treatment facilitates, medications, drug trial participation, crisis intervention, hospitalizations, and other care. It is useful to engage your current treating provider in this process.
If your requests are not explicitly expressed in the power of attorney, your agent must act in accordance with what the agent believes is in your best interests. However, for the agent to admit you into an inpatient psychiatric facility, you must expressly consent to this in the mental health care power of attorney.
Can You Revoke a Mental Health Power of Attorney in Phoenix?
A mental health care power of attorney can be revoked in all or part at any time that you can give informed consent. If you are determined to be incapacitated, you cannot legally revoke the power of attorney. A mental health care power of attorney can also be revoked through a court order.
What are the Legal Requirements for a Mental Health Power of Attorney in Phoenix?
Arizona has several legal requirements that must be followed for your mental health care power of attorney to be valid. It must be signed when you are of sound mind and can legally consent. The power of attorney will not be valid if it was signed while you were under duress, fraud, or undue influence.
The mental health care power of attorney must also be signed by one witness or notarized. The witness cannot be:
- Under the age of 18;
- Related by blood, adoption, or marriage;
- Entitled to any part of your estate;
- Appointed as your representative; or
- Involved in providing your health care at the time of the signing.
Your Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney
If you have questions about creating a mental health power of attorney in Phoenix, you should reach out to Nicole Pavlik Law Firm. A mental health power of attorney is a valuable estate planning tool that can save your family a lot of stress and heartache. Call Nicole Pavlik Law Firm today at 602-635-6176 for a free consultation.