Even though a living will sounds like a will, it isn’t what most people think. It is a legally binding document which lays out your wishes for medical care and end-of-life procedures in the event that you are unconscious or unable to provide consent. The Colorado living wills law came out of the Colorado Medical Treatment Act (Colorado Code 15-18-102). Our attorneys at the Meurer Law Offices in Denver can explain it in more detail but here is an example: your living will guides medical decisions if you suddenly suffer a traumatic injury and the medical facility needs to make a decision regarding what life-sustaining procedures for you.
If you can’t make decisions for yourself, living wills and health care directives drafted with the help of the Meurer Law Offices can speak for you when you can’t. These are written, legal instructions affecting your medical care preferences. Whether you’re seriously hurt in a car accident or in a coma due to an ongoing illness, these instructions will guide your doctors as they make decisions regarding:
- Resuscitation directives like restarting your heart if it stops.
- Donating organs and tissue transplants.
- Using mechanical ventilation if you’re unable to do so on your own.
- If you want to be on a feeding tube and if so, for how long.
- Palliative care, including pain management.
- Receiving dialysis treatment.
- Use of antibiotics or antiviral medicines when you are near the end of life.
- Donating your body for scientific study.
If you’d like to read more, FindLaw sets out the requirements for a living will. With a living will, if you are a competent adult, you can decide what life-sustaining procedures you want withheld or withdrawn if you end up not being able to communicate these wishes to your doctor or medical staff. You must sign the living will in front of two witnesses. If you can’t sign it yourself, you can ask another person to sign it for you if you are present and you have expressed your desire to have them sign it on your behalf.
A living will can include a prohibition against any medical procedure or intervention that would serve only to prolong your dying process as long as it doesn’t include any medical procedure that would be for nourishment or considered by an attending physician to provide comfort or alleviate pain. Artificial nourishment may be withdrawn if it is declared that artificial nutrition should not be continued if it is the only procedure being provided or that it should be continued for a specified period of time if it is the only procedure being provided.
You can revoke your living will in several ways. You can revoke it by verbally saying you revoke it, in writing, or by destroying the document.
A doctor carrying out your directives in a living will receive immunity for their actions. A hospital or physician withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining procedures in compliance with your living will is NOT subject to any civil or criminal liability or licensing sanction in the absence of revocation, fraud, misrepresentation, or improper execution.
The Colorado living wills law sets out the legal requirements for a valid living will and they are you must be a competent adult and sign the document in front of two competent witnesses. Our attorneys at the Meurer Law Offices in Denver can help you draft your living will now so that your wishes can be carried out if there is a time when you can’t communicate your healthcare decisions.