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Advance Directive For Mental Health

Mental Competence: What It Is And How It Is Proved

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Mental competence is basically that you are mentally okay at  the time in question. For example, that you understand the nature and extent of your assets and what would be "normal" for you to do with them (for example, leave them in a will to a spouse.) 

Mental competence comes into play at two different times with respect to Advance Directives for Mental Health. 

  • The first is when you execute the document. The question becomes: were you mentally competent to execute the document(s) when you did? If there is a question, competency is generally determined by interviewing people who were close to you at the time you executed the document. You can limit the possibility that competence will be questioned by obtaining an affidavit from your doctor about your mental condition and storing it with your advance directives.
  • The second is when someone attempts to exercise an advance directive for mental health. In this case, lack of mental competence triggers the ability of someone else to make decisions on your behalf. This determination is usually made by one or more treating doctors.

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