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Mental Health Care Powers of Attorney in Arizona

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Mental health care power of attorney

When people are creating their advance directives, they often overlook one important document– the mental health care powers of attorney. Mental health care powers of attorney (POA) are legal documents that allow a person to make mental health treatment decisions on behalf of another person when they are unable to do so for themselves. The person making the decisions is called an agent. The person decisions are being made on behalf of is called a principal.

You can tailor your mental health care power of attorney to meet your individual needs. Typically mental health care POAs include a list of decisions the agent can make and a list of limitations on the agent’s authority. As its name suggests, mental healthcare powers of attorney generally cover mental health treatment decisions. These can include decisions about medications, psychiatric or psychological treatments, and admittance into inpatient programs.

I don’t have a mental illness. Do I still need a mental health POA?

A mental health care power of attorney is an important advance directive, even for those without a mental illness diagnosis. Like any other illness, mental illness can develop at any time. An accident like a fall or crash can affect your mental health. Medications can also have side effects that affect your mental health. Some diseases like Alzheimers or Dementia can cause behavior issues. Even if these scenarios seem unlikely, it is better to be safe than sorry.

So, what happens if you do not have a mental health care POA? Well, in the event you need to be admitted inpatient psychiatric facility and refuse, your loved ones may need to pursue an emergency guardianship through the probate courts to ensure you receive treatment. Court proceedings can be costly and stressful for families. You also won’t get any say in who the court appoints to make decisions on your behalf.

It’s best to have a mental health care POA even if you do not have a mental illness diagnosis.

Do I need a mental health care POA if I already have a medical/ healthcare POA?

Yes. A health care POA gives an agent power to make medical decisions on your behalf. This does not necessarily include mental health care decisions on your behalf. For example, generally, a healthcare POA doesn’t grant an agent authority to place the principal in an inpatient facility without their consent. For an agent to make mental health care decisions on your behalf, you need a mental health care POA.

When can my agent use a mental health POA?

In order to grant an agent powers, a principal must have legal mental capacity to do so. This means that a principal cannot grant someone powers if they are already incapacitated. It also means that loved ones can’t seek out a mental health POA to make decisions for someone in the midst of a mental health crisis.

Even once you sign your POA, your agent does not immediately gain the power to admit you to an inpatient facility on any whim. Your agent can’t make any decisions on your behalf unless you are incapacitated or a doctor states that you are unable to give informed consent.

Even though a mental health POA may not go into effect immediately, mental health POAs still grant significant control to your agent. If you are incapacitated, you want your agent to be trustworthy and continuously acting in your best interest.

Can I revoke my mental health care POA?

Yes, as long as you have the capacity to do so. You must revoke a POA in writing and give a copy of your revocation to any interested third party. This includes your agent and any medical facilities that may have your POA on file. The Arizona state legislature has made a form to revoke your POA; but, consulting with an attorney is always a good idea.

How do I create a mental health POA?

In Arizona, the state legislature has created a form that you can use to create a valid mental health care POA. You can use this form if you don’t have a mental health care POA and you want to create one quickly. For a POA that is more tailored to your needs, we recommend seeing an attorney who is familiar with mental health care POAs.

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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.