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Should My Estate Plan Include a Mental Health Declaration?

 Posted on December 19, 2023 in Elder Law

Texas mental health declarationAn estate plan will include a variety of essential documents that allow you to protect your assets and ensure that your wishes will be carried out correctly. While wills and trusts can be used to address financial concerns and distribute your assets to your beneficiaries, other documents may also be used to ensure that your needs will be met during your lifetime. Advance medical directives can provide instructions regarding medical care and other personal needs, ensuring that you will receive the proper treatment in situations where you may not be able to communicate your wishes. While there are multiple types of advance medical directives, a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment can be used to ensure that you receive the proper psychiatric care. An attorney with experience in estate planning and elder law can advise you on the benefits of a mental health declaration and help you make sure your wishes will be followed should you need psychiatric treatment in the future.

What Is a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment?

A mental health declaration is a legal document that outlines your preferences for psychiatric treatment during times when you may be unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself due to mental illness or other related concerns. The state of Texas provides a form that may be used to specify your wishes for mental health treatment, although you may also work with an attorney to create a document that will fully detail your wishes and instructions.

A declaration for mental health treatment can provide instructions on the types of care you would like to receive and those you wish to avoid if you become incapacitated by conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or severe depression. Your declaration may detail the types of psychoactive medications you do or do not want to take, whether you consent to receive electroconvulsive treatment (shock therapy), and your preferences for treatment in emergency situations, including whether restraints, sedations, or other types of medications may be used. You can also include any other instructions that may apply to the treatment you receive for mental health conditions.

The Importance of Including Mental Health Declaration in Your Estate Plan

There are several reasons why including a mental health declaration in your estate plan is crucial, including:

  • Protection of personal autonomy: By creating a declaration for mental health treatment alongside other legal documents like powers of attorney, you can maintain control over your treatment decisions and ensure that your personal autonomy and values will be respected at all times.

  • Ensuring desired treatment: Without clear instructions regarding your preferred treatment during episodes of mental incapacity, loved ones may struggle with making difficult decisions on your behalf. A mental health declaration ensures that they will respect your wishes without any uncertainty about what you would have wanted.

  • Instructions for medical providers: Your mental health declaration will help guide healthcare professionals who will be caring for you during periods of mental illness. It ensures that they will be able to provide treatment that aligns with your wishes and personal values rather than relying on assumptions or default protocols.

Making Your Mental Health Declaration Effective

While including a mental health declaration in your estate plan is essential, it is also important to take the proper steps to ensure that your wishes will be followed:

  1. Create an accurate and comprehensive document: When drafting your mental health declaration, ensure that it accurately reflects your treatment preferences and any specific instructions you may have. You may want to include details such as medication preferences, preferred types of therapy, and mental health professionals who you wish to provide you with treatment.

  2. Distribute copies to the appropriate parties: You can provide copies of your mental health declaration to healthcare providers who are likely to be involved in treating you during episodes of incapacity, and you can also make sure family members or other appointed decision-makers will have access to the document.

  3. Periodically review and update your declaration: As life circumstances change or new therapies become available over time, it is crucial to revisit and update your declaration for mental health treatment accordingly. This ensures that it remains relevant and truly reflects your desires.

Contact Our San Antonio Advance Medical Directives Attorney

If you need help determining whether you should include a mental health declaration in your estate plan, or if you need to ensure that all of your estate planning documents have been created and executed correctly, The Law Office of Ryan C. Moe, PLLC can provide the legal assistance you need. Our Bexar County estate planning lawyer can guide you through the process of creating a legally binding mental health declaration that aligns with your wishes, while also addressing any other concerns you may have about your medical care, your finances, or other aspects of your estate plan. To schedule a consultation, contact our office at 210-861-6000.

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