The central purpose for estate planning generally is to declare your intent about certain matters while you have the present ability. Planning for the disposition of property in a manner that avoids unnecessary expense and conflict may be thought to be the primary purpose for estate planning. This is so because everyone knows about the inevitability of death and taxes.
However, a comprehensive estate plan will actually encompass end-of-life matters and healthcare considerations, as well. Planning for these contingencies is done using an estate planning tool called an advance medical directive, which often includes a living will. Since physical or mental disabilities are not sure to occur, you may not have considered the need for this kind of planning. If so, you are not alone.
According to a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, only 26.3% of respondents had an advance directive. According to researchers, “lack of awareness was the most frequently reported reason for not having one.” Further, the study found that “those who reported not knowing if they had an [end-of-life] concern were less likely to have an advance directive.”
An advance medical directive document in Colorado, as described by the Colorado Bar Association, may be comprised of several types of advance medical directives, including a living will, health care power of attorney, and other end-of-life declarations or directives. In Colorado, a living will is called a Declaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment. As with living wills in other states, a declarant in Colorado may make decisions regarding procedures that could prolong life.
The place, manner, and circumstances surrounding death are often important to individuals for cultural, religious, or traditional reasons. If you are a person who has a desire to die naturally, no matter the reason, you may want to seriously consider properly executing a living will because absent such a declaration healthcare professionals will sustain life to the best of their abilities.
In order to ensure you have a properly executed living will as part of your estate plan, you may want to consider seeking the advice and counsel of an attorney. There are certain requirements for what constitutes proper execution in Colorado. An attorney can also explain the scope and purpose of your living will and help you understand other matters that might be included in your advance medical directive.