~ By Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C. ~
The Living Will form is also referred to as the Advance Directive for Medical/Surgical Treatment. This advance directive allows adults who have decisional capacity to set forth his or her written decisions as to the acceptance or rejection of life-sustaining procedures if at some future time, he or she has a terminal condition or is in a persistent vegetative state. It is important to leave written instructions because many people lose decision making abilities before death. Two doctors must certify in writing that you have a terminal condition or you are in a persistent vegetative state and you must be unable to effectively receive, evaluate information or communicate those decisions. In other words, you must decide what life sustaining procedures you want at the end of your life and put this in writing so that your wishes can be followed when you are unable to either decide or communicate your decisions at a later date.
Many of my clients are confused by the difference between a living will and a last will and testament. A last will and testament is a document which takes effect at your death and states who should receive your property at your death and who should administer your estate. A living will is a medical directive. At a minimum, it is your personal statement about how long you want to be kept alive on machines if you are dying or there is no hope of recovery. There are many living will forms available to the general public. The old forms are very simple. They ask you to initial your choice regarding life sustaining procedures and artificial nourishment and they state that you do not want to be kept alive for more than 7 consecutive days on life support.
Many attorneys who specialize in elder law, estates and probate, have designed their own forms which are tailored to your needs and are more specific. The Colorado Bar Association also has endorsed a new living will form. The new form asks for your directions on life support if you are in a persistent vegetative state, as well as if you have a terminal condition. The choices are similar to the choices you have if you are terminal, you are asked how long you want life-sustaining procedures and how long you would like artificial nutrition or hydration provided. The form may ask for your directions if your wishes as stated in the living will conflict with your agents wishes under your medical power of attorney. Many forms provide space where you can specify other medical directions and some provide a HIPAA waiver so that your doctors may release medical information to certain people and or so that others may make medical decisions for you at the time.
This article was written by Tamra K Waltemath of Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney. Tamra K. Waltemath is an elder law attorney focusing on wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, probate and non-probate transfers, guardianships and conservatorships. She can be contacted at: Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C., 3843 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster, CO 80030; 303-657-0360; or visit her website at: www.WaltemathLawOffice.com.