Having a living will in place is important for your loved ones and for your own peace of mind. It helps you prepare for unexpected medical situations. With our free consultations, there’s no risk to you for contacting Denver-based Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd. today.
Call (303) 724-9147 to schedule your no-obligation consultation.
At Colorado Estate Matters, we commit to communicating openly and transparently with our clients and any beneficiaries with whom we’re authorized to communicate. It’s our policy to provide all the information you need to make the best possible decisions for you and your future.
Our Denver estate planning lawyer has more than a decade of experience handling all matters of estate law. We use a combination of traditional and innovative approaches to develop unique solutions that meet your objectives and needs.
We take a client-centered approach and strive to address the entire family dynamic to help you leave a positive and lasting legacy for your loved ones.
A “living will,” sometimes called a Declaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment in Colorado, is a legal document that allows you to tell your medical providers and your family members what medical treatment you would or wouldn’t want to receive in the event you’re unable to communicate, such as if you’re in a vegetative state with no hope of recovery.
For example, it will explain whether or not you want to be kept on life support if you become terminally ill and would die shortly without it. It will also designate a person who will be tasked with informing your medical team of what treatment should or shouldn’t be provided.
We draft living wills for families in the south Denver metro area and throughout Colorado, beginning with an in-depth discussion about your philosophy about end-of-life care. Your living will outlines your beliefs, desires, and wishes, so we’ll make sure that it’s clearly written and is legally binding.
Before you can make a living will, you should make sure you meet Colorado’s basic requirements for creating a legally binding document. Generally, this means that you must be at least 18 years old and be able to communicate your own wishes.
You’ll then need to consider and decide what type of care you want to receive if you’re in an end-of-life situation. If you’re unsure about what you want, our living will lawyers can help answer your questions and discuss your options with you. You may also want to consult your physician, family members, religious leader, therapist, or other trusted confidantes to help you make these important decisions.
Once your wishes are clear, our legal team will prepare the necessary documents to ensure your wishes are honored. We’ll then review them with you and make sure that you understand the implications of your choices. You’ll then sign the document along with two witnesses.
Your living will can specify that you don’t want any medical procedure or intervention that would only serve to prolong dying.
However, under Colorado law, the treatment you are refusing shall not include a medical procedure for nourishment, or a procedure considered by your attending physician to provide comfort or alleviate pain. Artificial nourishment may be withdrawn if you say that it shouldn’t be provided for a single procedure or that it should only be continued for a specified period.
Common scenarios that can be addressed in a living will include:
To have a valid living will in Colorado:
A living will only become effective when you’re unable to communicate your wishes on your own. This can particularly occur in medical situations such as:
In some situations, doctors and hospitals may believe they are legally obligated to perform certain procedures or keep you on life support, even if you’ve lost all brain function. These could be procedures that you may or may not have wanted.
Having a living will removes the guesswork and can also make it easier for your spouse, adult children, or other relatives to make decisions about your care in such a situation.
If you’re in a terminal state and are unable to communicate for yourself, would you want doctors to prolong your life by artificial means? Otherwise, you can have feeding tubes, artificial hydration, and breathing machines. Or do you only want treatment to relieve pain and suffering?
Without a living will, your family members might have to make that gut-wrenching decision on their own without knowing what you would have wanted. This can lead to disputes between family members that can ultimately end up in court.
It’s common for a living will to be confused with a will. A will is the shortened name for a Last Will and Testament which expresses your wishes regarding what happens with your property and your minor children when you die. In contrast, a living will outlines your wishes about what happens specifically with medical treatments while you are still living.
Both documents are important and serve different purposes, so one doesn’t replace the other, but they can both be part of your comprehensive estate plan.
After you’ve executed your living will, keep the original in a safe place where it can easily be found and is free from damage or destruction, such as in a fireproof safe. Make sure you give a copy to your primary care physician and anyone who might be involved with making decisions concerning your health care.
You should review your living will periodically and update it as needed to ensure that it reflects your wishes at all times. You might also want to consider talking to your family members or friends about your living will so that multiple people are aware of your wishes regarding the decisions you’ve made pertaining to your end-of-life care.
Although you can prepare a living will without an attorney, it’s highly recommended that you consult with one. When something as high-stakes as a living will is involved, the last thing you want is ambiguity or questions about its validity.
A single error is all it takes to render a living will invalid or open to interpretation. When you work with an estate attorney in Denver to draft your living will, the likelihood of this occurring is much lower.
Overall, having legal counsel when creating a living will can give you peace of mind that your wishes will be honored and respected when you’re unable to communicate them — and when it comes to matters of life and death, that’s the best assurance you can have.
When it comes to matters as important as your living will, there’s no substitute for professional legal advice. At Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd., we can help you ensure that all legal requirements are met and that your living will is legally binding. We can also help you address more complex issues in your living will, such as specifying who should manage your healthcare decisions if you’re unable to do so.
Don’t take chances when it comes to your medical care and wishes. Our living will attorneys in Colorado have the experience and knowledge to ensure that your wishes are carried out according to the letter of the law.
Call Colorado Estate Matters at (303) 713-9147 or complete our online contact form to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.