The Living Will: What It Is And Why You Need One

Posted by Joseph Franks on March 25th, 2020

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a common worry is that you may not be prepared if you become seriously ill. It is only natural that at times of hesitation we do what we can to retain some measure of control, and take action towards the things that can provide us with a sense of security or peace of mind. Preparing a Living Will, especially as part of a comprehensive estate plan, is one such way that we can do this. For more detail and guidelines on living will contact Estate Planning Help in Denver, Colorado.

What is a Living Will?

By statute in Colorado, adults have the right to accept or reject medical or surgical treatment and are permitted to do so in advance of needing medical care. This can be accomplished through an Advance Directive for Medical/Surgical Treatment, also commonly referred to as a “Living Will.” When incapacitated this document outlines your particular wishes, and acts as a declaration to your healthcare providers as to whether or not you want receive life-sustaining treatments in an end of life scenario.

Why is Having a Living Will Important?

Much like the other documents in your estate plan, a Living Will allows you to keep control, even when you are incapacitated and could not otherwise make your own desires known. By making end of life decisions for yourself in advance, you can remove the burden of decision-making from your family or friends who may struggle to make these tough decisions. Additionally, a Living Will may curtail medical expenses that could eat away at the estate you wanted to leave to your loved ones.

How Does a Living Will Work?

If you are declared incapacitated, and a determination is made that you are in a terminal condition or a persistent vegetative state, your Living Will controls what happens next.  With respect to your end of life care, you can elect the following:

  • Have life-sustaining treatment withheld or withdrawn
  • Accept life-sustaining treatment for a specific period of time.  At the conclusion of the specified period, you will be reevaluated and life-sustaining measures can be withdrawn if it is determined that the terminal condition or persistent vegetative state that was originally diagnosed still exists; or
  • Continue life-sustaining treatment so long as it is medically feasible.

It is important to note that in Colorado the provision of nutrition or hydration to an adult determined to be in a terminal condition or a persistent vegetative state is considered separately from other forms of life-sustaining treatment. The same decisions outlined above will also have to be made with respect to receiving nutrition and hydration. This may seem redundant, but the separation provides clarity - especially in situations where you may be in a different state, with different requirements or laws.

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Joseph Franks

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Joseph Franks
Joined: September 16th, 2019
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