If your power of attorney was before 2009 or written in another state, you likely do not provide your agent with in-patient mental health care treatment authority. The Mental Health Care Power of Attorney document is critical for all Arizonans — you do not need to have a history of mental illness to be at risk.

Case #1 with Uncle Buck:

Uncle Buck goes to his doctor and his medication is changed.  He goes home and follows the pharmacist’s directions and his mood and behavior dramatically changes- he is not himself. He has an allergic reaction to the medication that manifests itself into behaviors like mental illness. He refuses help or medical attention.  

Case #2 with Uncle Eddie:

Eddie has dementia with significant behavioral issues.  He has a health care power of attorney but not a mental health care power of attorney. Eddie needs to be admitted to a psychiatric inpatient placement but does not have an agent with authority to do so. Upon presentation to the hospital, Eddie is delusional and paranoid and not able to consent to his own admission. Under Arizona’s laws, he can be admitted without his consent but only if the surrogate medical decision maker agrees to file an emergency petition for the appointment of Guardian with Inpatient Mental Health Authority. Unfortunately, once Eddie is under court ordered guardianship it will likely be permanent which creates additional expense that could easily have been avoided with a simple Arizona Mental Health Power of Attorney.

In Arizona, a traditional healthcare power of attorney does not grant your agent the authority to have you hospitalized or treated inpatient for mental health concerns.  Without the Mental Health Power of Attorney, if you exhibit signs that you could be a danger to yourself or others and need inpatient hospitalization (yet refuse such help), the only option is to pursue an emergency guardianship.

To review or update your medical directives and estate plan, or if you may need to seek Guardianship (with or without in-patient mental health authority) for someone else, contact the attorneys at Bivens & Associates, PLLC at 480-922-1010 or email info@bivenslaw.com to schedule your appointment. We can help.