What is a Living Will?
“In Colorado, individuals may execute a “Declaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment,” more commonly referred to as a “Living Will.” A Living Will covers the administration, withholding, or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures when you have a terminal condition and are unconscious or otherwise incompetent. In this very limited set of circumstances, declarations you make in a properly executed Living Will as to artificial nutrition, artificial hydration, and the administration, removal, or refusal of life-sustaining procedures govern your treating physician’s course of action. Under Colorado law, a “life-sustaining procedure” is any medical procedure that only serves to prolong the dying process, including CPR, defibrillation, medications, and surgery.
A Living Will also may include declarations regarding your wishes as to your treatment if you are in a persistive vegetative state (which is not a terminal condition), and whether or not you want to make anatomical gifts. You are encouraged to discuss any medical questions or issues you have with your doctor so you can make the best decision. Regardless of your decision to accept or reject life-sustaining treatment, medical professionals will continue to provide all necessary treatment to alleviate pain and suffering.
A Living Will may be revoked or amended at any time. If you do revoke or amend a Living Will, it is very important that you provide your doctor, family, and anyone else with the most current version so they are aware of your wishes. So long as a Living Will appears valid and the medical professionals are not aware of any fraud, revocation, or that it was improperly executed, the attending physician may rely on it without the threat of liability. A Living Will must be witnessed by two uninterested parties, and should be notarized if possible.”
Thanks to the Colorado Bar Association for preparing this concise information.
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