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Planning Ahead for Mental Health

Having a say in your own mental healthcare may be very important to you. But what if someday you're unable to make decisions about your treatment? A psychiatric advance directive (PAD) is a document written while you're mentally healthy that can speak for you if you become incapacitated by mental illness.

Almost everyone who has an estate plan prepared by a professional has standard documents in place, including general durable powers of attorney and health care powers of attorney. Respectively, these documents appoint someone to handle an incapacitated person's finances and health care decisions. However, there is another, similar document that far fewer people have. What is it? The psychiatric advance directive.

CNNrecently discussed this important topic in an article titled "A Guide to Psychiatric Advance Directives."

A psychiatric advance directive allows you to appoint someone to oversee and direct treatment if mental illness prevents you from being capable of doing so yourself. In some cases, you can even direct certain techniques, treatments or medications that should or should not be used to treat your mental illness. About half of the states have specific laws or forms that can be used for psychiatric advance directives. In states that do not have specific laws, the normal power of attorney documents can often be used to accomplish the same thing.

A specific psychiatric advance directive may not be for everyone. However, if you want something different done should you become mentally ill, then talking to an estate planning attorney about a psychiatric advance directive is a good idea.

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