The Act defines the nearest relative from a set list, beginning with spouse, child, parent, and sibling in that order. Elder relatives take precedence in each category, as do relatives who live with or care for the patient. Cohabitees can be designated nearest relatives in some circumstances. The nearest relative has the power to discharge a patient from Section 2. Section 3 cannot be applied if the nearest relative objects, but an objection can be overruled by a county court if considered unreasonable. A relative is not legally permitted to consent to treatment on behalf of an adult patient, so consent from the nearest relative does not remove the necessity to apply the Act.

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