On August 10, 2012

How do you want to die? It’s a jarring question, to be sure. We start asking each other as children, but it seems the older we get, the more we shy away from the answer. When questions about our final days go from playful speculation to realistic planning, they can be uncomfortable for us and our family members, but they also become much more important.

Advanced directives are an ideal way to let your loved ones and your doctors know your wishes for your end-of-life care. The state of Colorado has authorized advanced directives so that your requests for your end-of-life care are honored by health care providers. These directives, otherwise known as a living will, are crucial in case you are no longer able to communicate the types of medical treatment that you would like to receive, and alternately, the treatments that you do not want to receive. Advanced directives are an essential part of estate planning and become a permanent part of your medical records.

The directives would also specify who your designated agent is who will make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. A designated agent can be a family member, a close friend or other person who agrees, in good faith, to make decisions that would be compatible with your wishes. It needs to be someone that you can talk with and trust with your end-of-life decisions.

Some of these decisions are going to involve the types of life-sustaining care you receive, such as CPR and resuscitation orders, as well as preferences regarding breathing and feeding tubes. Other decisions involve the types of palliative care that you will receive, such as pain medication and symptom management, so that you are more comfortable. Medical providers have a legal obligation to carry out your advanced directives, or any directives made by your designated agent.

Since the majority of elderly people do need to be hospitalized in their final days, these advanced directives are imperative to talk about and to prepare while you are healthy and able enough to do so.

Source: BuffaloNews.com, “Getting a final health plan down on paper,” Henry L. Davis, July 24, 2012

  • Our firm handles issues like the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Colorado estate planning page.

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