Health care directives, including the Living Will, Health Care Agent Designation, and HIPAA Medical Release, are crucial elements of every estate plan in Orange County. One issue that does not come up very often when discussing health care directives, though, is mental health. Mental health falls into the realm of health care and as such is covered by health care directives.
Health care directives can be a great help to those suffering from mental health issues as it can allow a loved one to help make decisions about care, discuss treatments and medications with health care professionals, and fill out the documentation that’s sometimes necessary in order to receive needed health care services. Orange County estate planning attorneys advise that when making these types of decisions regarding who will advocate on your behalf in health care situations, especially when mental health issues are a concern, it is important to choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes.
However, it’s also worth noting that a standard health care directive may not be adequate when dealing with more extreme mental health issues, such as Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia. In these cases, it may be a good idea to consult with an estate lawyer regarding a “mental healthcare directive” that can be used for more extreme cases. Mental healthcare directives specifically cover items such as involuntary commitment, intensive therapy, and greater control over medications.
Of course, if a person is not cognitively capable of signing a legal document like a mental healthcare directive, this document will not end up doing anyone any good. In cases where a person’s mental state will not allow them to sign a legal document, a conservatorship or guardianship hearing must be held at the Orange County probate court in order to give a caregiver the authority to make mental and physical health decisions for their loved ones. This can be a long and difficult process, and it would be wise to consult with an experienced Orange County estate planning lawyer in order to determine what course of action would be best for your individual situation.
If you have questions about your health care directives, or if you’d like more information about how having health care directives can provide peace of mind when mental health issues are of a concern, please contact our Newport Beach estate planning law firm at (949) 260-1400 to set up a consultation.