Living Wills were have had legal status in Colorado since 1985. It gives the patient the right to accept or refuse medical treatment. A living will along with a health care power of attorney should always be included an estate plan.
1) A living will is not a will at all. It’s an advanced medical directive, which is something entirely different. The term “living will” is commonly confused with the terms “wills” and “living trusts”. It gives a doctor instructions concerning end of life care for the patient.
2) There are specific requirements that need to be followed for the living will to be valid. The living will must be signed by an 18 year old (or older), mentally competent declarant. Also, it needs be signed by two witnesses and should be notarized. By statute, these people are not allowed to be a witness:
- A doctor, health care provider, or employee of facility providing care
- claimant against the estate at death
- an heir
- fellow patients of a health care facility
Have a look at your current living will to make sure one of the people listed above is not a witness.
3) A living will only pertains to “life sustaining procedures” while you are in a “terminal condition” or a “persistent vegetative state”. These are very narrow circumstances and extremely rare. If you are otherwise incapacitated and unable to make decisions, your appointed health care power of attorney agent will make decisions on your behalf.
4) Since 1998, the state of Colorado has allowed the declarant to donate his or her organs. Last year 28,000 lives were saved through organ transplants. A donor’s organs can be used to save up to eight lives.
5) If you are pregnant, in an emergency, or in surgery; your living will, will most likely be ignored. Medical providers prefer to have their patient’s die in recovery than the operating room. A health care power of attorney, in addition to a living will, can take these contingencies into account to ensure that your end of life decisions will be honored.
Everyone over the age of 18 should have a living will, even if it’s the only estate planning document you have.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice about your case or situation. There may be exceptions to the information outlined above. Please consult an attorney if you have specific questions about your estate or a decedent’s estate.Follow me on social media: