- A psychiatric advance directive (PAD) is a legal document that documents a person’s preferences for future mental health treatment, and allows appointment of a health proxy to interpret those preferences during a crisis.
- PADs may be drafted when a person is well enough to consider preferences for future mental health treatment.
- PADs are used when a person becomes unable to make decisions during a mental health crisis.
Utah Q and A
Ten commonly asked questions about PAD’s for Utah
Please note: the following 10 FAQs are designed to provide a quick and accessible guide to what your state’s Statutes say – or do not say – about PADs. The FAQs do not attempt to provide a complete picture of the law in your state, nor can they take the place of legal advice. The answers were accurate when written in May 2007.
1. Can I write a legally-binding psychiatric advance directive (PAD)?
Yes. Utah’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Act allows you to appoint an agent to give instructions for you in the event of a mental heath crisis. In Utah, the document in which you record your instructions is called a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment. The form is available here. Under current Utah law, you may not write freestanding instructions for mental health treatment, but you may direct the decisions your agent should make.
2. Can I write advance instructions regarding psychiatric medications and/or hospitalization?
Yes. You may use a Mental Health Declaration to express any and all wishes you have about your mental health treatment, including refusals of mental health treatment. You may consent to admission to a psychiatric facility, but only for a period of up to seventeen days.
3. Does anyone have to approve my advance instructions at the time I make them?
No. You are presumed competent to make the Declaration unless you have been found to be incapable of making mental health care decisions or have been committed under involuntary commitment laws. Your Declaration or other document containing your instructions must be signed by two witnesses.
4. Can I appoint an agent to make mental health decisions for me if I become incompetent?
Yes. You may use your Declaration to name any adult with capacity as your agent. The exception is that your attending physician, any employee of your mental health care provider, or an employee of a local mental health authority, may not act as your agent.
5. If I become incompetent, can my agent make decisions for me about medications, and/or hospitalization?
Yes. You may authorize your agent to make decisions about medications and hospitalization.
6. Does my agent have to make decisions as he/she thinks I would make them (known as “substituted judgment”), or does he/she have to make them in my “best interests”?
Your agent must act according to the instructions, if any, you have documented. If your wishes are not documented, he/she must act according to your “best interests”.
7. Is there any rule that says that I can only make advanced instructions, only appoint an agent, or that I must do both?
Yes. As explained above, you may not write freestanding instructions.
8. Before following my PAD, would my mental health care providers need a court to determine I am not competent to make a certain decision?
No. Your Declaration ordinarily takes effect when two physicians certify you as incapable of making decisions for yourself.
9. Does the statute say anything about when my mental health providers may decline to follow my PAD?
Yes. Your document may be overridden if you are committed to a local mental health authority or in an “emergency endangering life or health”.
10. How long does my PAD remain valid?
Your Declaration remains valid for three years, or until you revoke it, whichever period is the shorter. You may revoke a Mental Health Declaration by communicating your intention to do so to your providers, but you may not do so once you have been declared incompetent.