Mental Health Advance Directive
Mental health advance directives are authorized by RCW 71.32. They are actually a hybrid of an advance directive and a power of attorney and are primarily for the purpose of dealing with mental illnesses that cycle between periods of incapacity and capacity, such as with bipolar disorder. The document must be “tailor-made” to fit the precise needs of the person who is executing the document, called the “principal”. The document may only be executed or signed when the principal has legal capacity to do so. At that time, a plan can be developed and the document can be prepared so that the principal may appoint an “agent” (also called “attorney-in-fact”) who would make healthcare decisions for the principal during any period of incapacity, such as a period of mania, delusions or debilitating depression. This can be critical when medication management is essential to maintaining the health of the principal.