If you fall ill and cannot express your wishes regarding medical care, doctors will seek answers about your care by looking for: a living will, a medical durable power of attorney, or your loved ones.
Under these circumstances, having your family make decisions without your input can be incredibly stressful for them. It can also be difficult because of Colorado consensus statutes, which we explain below.
Colorado is one of two states with a consensus statute. This statute requires that absent a living will or medical power of attorney, all available and interested parties (including spouses, parents, children, siblings and close friends) must come to an agreement on who should make the necessary decisions.
Most other states observe hierarchy statutes, which names the person closest to the patient as a decision-maker.
So, if you become incapacitated, your loved ones are supposed to agree on a decision-maker before decisions can be made about your care. If there are strained relationships, or if you have no close family, agreeing on a decision-maker can be a significant challenge.
Making your own decisions
Instead of going through this process, you can make decisions yourself on what you do and do not want in terms of your care. You can do this with a living will or medical durable power of attorney.
In a living will or medical power of attorey, you can decide what you want regarding:
- Artificial nutrition (feeding tubes)
- Resuscitation efforts
- Use of ventilator
- Removal of life support
- Organ and tissue donation
- Disposition of remains
You will also name someone to make your medical decisions for you. By doing this, you save your loved ones – and people with whom you may not be close – from having to agree on making critical care choices.
The powers of a living will and medical POA
A living will and medical power of attorney can accomplish many goals, including retaining power over your care and qualify of life if you become incapacitated.
They also protect your loved ones from having to reach agreements about a decision-maker, and it ensures that someone you trust will have control over your care. These objectives can be especially crucial if you do not have close family or if your familial relationships are strained.
Considering how powerful these legal tools can be, creating a valid living will and medical power of attorney sooner, rather than later, is a wise choice.