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How Does a Living Will Differ from a Will?

A living will is completely different from a last will and testament. A living will outlines what type of medical care you want to receive while you are still living while a last will and testament states how you want your estate distributed and dependents cared for after you pass away. Both are legal documents, but one goes into effect while you are living and the other after you have passed away.

You can think of a living will in Colorado as a document that tells your loved ones how you want to live if you are unable to tell them (or your doctors) on your own. For example, if you are in a car accident or contract a disease that leaves you unable to communicate, your living will can remove the burden of deciding your medical care from your loved ones. You can state in your living will whether or not you want certain types of medical care to sustain your life. You can also decide the length of time you wish to have certain life-sustaining care administered – and then stopped.

  • Ventilator breathing assistance
  • Tube feeding to supply adequate nutrition
  • Resuscitation
  • Dialysis
  • Medication or procedures to decrease pain and suffering
  • Extraordinary measures to sustain life at all costs

Within your living will, it is important to designate a medical power of attorney to enforce your wishes. It may be better to appoint someone that is not a close family member to have this important responsibility – especially if you do not want any type of life-saving measures taken. You can also state if you want to be an organ or tissue donor within this document.

Your Family Should Know About Your Living Will

A living will may never need to be enforced. Of course, that is the hope for everyone that creates one. However, if the unimaginable should occur, it is best that your family know your wishes ahead of time so they are not blindsided by certain decisions you have made in your living will. Again, this is especially important if you do not want any type of artificial life-sustaining measures taken.

The alternative is also important to know. If you choose to state that you want ALL types of life-sustaining measures taken for as long as possible, your family should be prepared for the medical expenses and emotional toll this can place on them.

The Denver living will lawyers at The Brown Law Firm, LLC can talk you through the living will process and provide you with the appropriate forms to complete. Contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online.