A Living Will is a type of medical directive, authorized by Colorado statute that communicates your wishes regarding life support and related matters to your physician and your hospital or hospice. This document gives the maker of the Living Will, who must be 18 or older and mentally competent, an opportunity to instruct those who will attend to his or her end of life care on the extent of life support, intravenous feedings and hydration, and medical treatment that is desired. A Living Will does not prohibit the use of procedures and medications to relieve pain. A drawback of the Living Will is that it does not become effective unless you are comatose for seven (7) consecutive days and your primary physician and one other physician have certified that you are terminally ill. Under this rule, even if you are comatose with no hope of recovery on day one, life support could not be discontinued for another six days - resulting in a very steep hospital bill.
Why a Living Will May Not Work
Living Wills are not always honored by physicians and hospitals because: (a) you are comatose and there is no one else with the legal right to enforce the Living Will; (b) a family member may threaten the hospital or physician with a lawsuit or unfavorable publicity if they don't use heroic measures; (c) life support measures mean big dollars for cash strapped hospitals; and (d) Living Wills are too limited in scope and may not cover your situation.
The Law Offices of James A. Littlepage , a Grand Junction Estate Planning attorney, has been assisting clients with Estate Planning matters since 1993. Mr. Littlepage has prepared over 2,000 estate plans and recently was recognized with a 2015 and 2016 Five Star Estate Planning Attorney℠ award. In 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 he received the Five Star Wealth Manager℠ award, as seen in 5280 and ColoradoBiz magazines. For assistance please contact our Grand Junction office.