A living will is technically not a will but a legally binding document that details the principal's preferences for medical care and end-of-life procedures in the event they are unconscious or unable to provide consent. It may be used, for example, if a patient suffers a traumatic injury and the medical facility needs to make a decision regarding life-sustaining procedures. If the patient's living will has a "do-not-resuscitate" (or "DNR") provision, then the doctor will know that the patient does not want to be connected to a feeding tube or breathing machine.
Overview of Colorado Living Wills Law
Under the Colorado Medical Treatment Decision Act (PDF), any competent adult is free to declare that life-sustaining procedures be withheld or withdrawn if he or she becomes incompetent to communicate these wishes to medical staff. The living will must be signed by the declarant (the person for whom the living will is written) in the presence of two witnesses. Another person may sign the document "in the declarant's presence and at his direction" if he is unable to sign it himself.
The main provisions of Colorado's living wills law are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Living Wills section for more articles and resources.
||15-18-102, et seq. Colorado Medical Treatment Decision Act
|Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts
||Any medical procedure or intervention that would serve only to prolong the dying process; it shall not include any medical procedure for nourishment or considered by attending physician to provide comfort or alleviate pain; however, artificial nourishment may be withdrawn pursuant to declaration that artificial nutrition (1) not be provided or continued when it is the only procedure being provided; (2) be continued for a specified period when it is the only procedure being provided
|Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will
||(1) Competent; (2) adult; (3) executed before 2 competent witnesses
|Revocation of Living Will
||Revocable by declarant orally, in writing, or by burning, tearing, cancelling; obliterating, or destroying the declaration
|Validity from State-to-State
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Living Will
|Immunity for Attending Physician
||No hospital or physician acting under direction of physician and participating in the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures in compliance with a declaration shall be subject to any civil or criminal liability or licensing sanction in the absence of revocation, fraud, misrepresentation, or improper execution.
Note: State laws are constantly changing. Be sure to contact a Colorado estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Colorado Living Will Laws: Related Resources