There is a federal law in place that requires that you be informed about your advance directive options if you are admitted into a hospital, nursing home, hospice, etc. These options include living wills, resuscitation wishes, refusal or acceptance of different types of medical treatment, medical power of attorney or guardian, scope of treatment orders and more.
While it is not a federal law that you create advance directive forms, it is definitely in your best interest to have your wishes in writing well before any type of emergency situation arises. Not only will this allow you to make your own decisions about your health care (even if you are physically or mentally unable to express your wishes); having these forms in place will also protect your family from having to make (often) very difficult decisions on your behalf (such as ending life support).
This blog will focus on living wills in Colorado: a legal document that outlines how you want life-sustaining treatments if you are in a persistent vegetative state or are in a terminal condition.
Requirements for Creating a Living Will in Colorado
- Must be at least 18 years of age and able to communicate your own decisions
- Can be created, changed or cancelled at any time
- You do not need to get approval of your wishes from your doctor or lawyer
- Must be signed by 2 competent adult witnesses
- Witnesses cannot be any employee of your healthcare facility or agency including your doctor
- Witnesses cannot be anyone who may be a beneficiary of your estate
- If you want to allow the decisions made in your living will to be changed, you must give specific authority to agent under medical power of attorney in your living will
- Once completed, the form should be shared with your loved ones and healthcare providers
Directives Covered in Living Wills
Your living will can designate:
- People that should be notified of your condition
- People who can discuss your condition with your medical team
- Medical Durable Power of Attorney that can override your wishes
- Life-sustaining measures as well as artificial nutrition and artificial hydration directives
- Organ and tissue donation
- Does not include any instructions on how to divide your personal property
The living will goes into effect 48 hours after 2 doctors have verified you are in a persistent vegetative state or have a terminal condition and are unable to speak for yourself.
While you do not need to have a professional help you fill out a living will, it is advisable to discuss your options with a lawyer or doctor to make sure you fully understand the ramifications of your decisions.
The Denver estate planning lawyers at The Brown Law Firm LLC can help you create a living will to ensure you are making the best decisions for your own personal beliefs. Contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to learn more.