A living will is completely different from a last will and testament. Rather than outlining how you want your estate distributed after your death (a last will and testament), a living will allows you to legally outline how you feel about medical interventions for end-of-life medical care. This ensures your wishes are met and also protects your loved ones, physicians and other caregivers from having to make these difficult decisions for you.
Living Will Directives
You have the right to decide whether or not you want life support systems (or how long you want them) such as:
- Artificial nutrition or hydration (tube feeding)
- Organ and tissue donation
- And more
If you do not want to make clear cut decisions on your care, you can designate a an agent under Medical Durable Power of Attorney to help make those decisions on your behalf.
Beyond medical treatments, you can also decide who you want notified about your condition and who will be given the responsibility of discussing your care with your medical team. This document should be shared with your family and your doctors. Make sure your loved ones know where a copy of your living will is kept.
Requirements for Creating a Living Will in Colorado
You have complete control over your living will – you do not need approval from anyone regarding your wishes. It can be changed at any time, assuming you are able to do so. You can even allow the decisions in your living will to be overridden. This power is typically given to your agent under medical power of attorney.
There are some rules to follow:
- Minimum of 18 years of age
- Physically and mentally able to communicate your own decisions
- Document signed by 2 competent adult witnesses
- Cannot be your doctor or healthcare facility employee
- Cannot be a beneficiary of your estate
- Cannot be a creditor of your estate
Notarization of your living will is not required, but it is recommended.
Colorado Living Will Form
An Advance Directive for Surgical/Medical Treatment (Living Will) form is available at: http://coloradoadvancedirectives.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/LW_form.pdf. Enlisting the help of an estate planning lawyer in Denver will allow you to fully understand the consequences of each decision you make in your document.
When Living Wills Go Into Effect
A living will is enforced while you are still alive but require medical intervention to stay alive. Two doctors must verify that your condition is terminal or that you are in a persistent vegetative state; the living will becomes active 48 hours after this determination.
Are Living Wills Required?
No. If you do not have a living will in place and you are admitted into any healthcare facility, federal law requires that you be informed about advance directive options. However, this will only be helpful information if you are physically and mentally able to make these decisions at the time of admittance. Planning for such events in advance will give you peace of mind if an emergency situation should arise. Hopefully you will never have to have your living will enforced, but that safeguard will be in place just in case.
The Denver estate planning lawyers at Brown & Crona, 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.