What is a Living Will?

This unfortunate situation is far too common: an unresponsive spouse in a hospital bed while grieving family members wrestle with difficult medical decisions. The enormous burden that is far-too-often placed upon the shoulders of these now-fragile relatives is the decision to provide, sustain, or terminate life-sustaining procedures. What is a grieving loved one to do? The painful regret that a family member commonly feels when making these decisions often arises from them not knowing whether the decision that they made was what their loved one really wanted.

It is likely that none of us wish to cause such pain and heartache on our family. Fortunately, Colorado law provides a means by which we can alleviate a large portion of the burden placed upon our families if and when we are the ones unable to communicate. This legal tool is commonly known as a “living will.”

A living will is a legal document by which you (while you still can) communicate your wishes regarding your own health care if you are unable to communicate and have a terminal condition or while in a persistent vegetative state. Effectively, when you have a living will, you lift from your families the burden of having to make these difficult decisions regarding life-sustaining procedures. In a living will, you are the one who chooses if and when life-sustaining procedures are implemented and if so, for how long. You can also determine which life-sustaining procedures you do or do not wish to implement, such as a respirator or a feeding tube.

Taking the time to carefully choose and communicate your health care wishes to your family through a living will is perhaps one of the best ways you can show them that you care. Instead of your child, spouse, sibling, or parent wrestling over certain difficult medical decisions, you have removed that burden from them… giving your family peace and reassurance as opposed to pain and regret.

Add a Comment