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What You Need to Know About Mental Health and Health Care Directives

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Jul 06, 2020 | 0 Comments

Your health care directives, which are essential parts of your estate plan, include your Living Will, Health Care Agent Designation, and HIPAA Medical Release.

The older we get, the more health issues are likely to occur, and without the proper legal documentation, we might not get the care we need. One area I don't see discussed enough, however, is mental health in health care directives.

An individual with mental health issues can benefit greatly from having proper health care directives in place, especially since it allows a chosen, trusted loved one to help with decisions about care, treatment, and medications, as well as the ability to help complete paperwork.

For example, a standard health care directive might not be adequate for those with extreme mental health conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or schizophrenia.

In those cases, I suggest consulting with an experienced attorney who can help you create a specific “mental health care” directive. Here you can cover subjects such as involuntary commitment, controversial treatment options, and give health care agents control over medications.

If a person's mental state renders them unable to make legal decisions, then a hearing for guardianship or conservatorship will be held in probate court to grant a caregiver legal authority over mental and physical health decisions. Adult guardianship proceedings can take a long time, and ultimately all decisions will be left to the court.

If you have more questions about health care directives, or specifically about how to plan for someone where mental health issues are a concern, feel free to give us a call to set up your consultation.

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...

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