In November 2016, Colorado residents approved Prop 106, which made Colorado the sixth state to pass what’s called an “Aid-in-Dying” law, formally called the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act. This law went into effect within the last month.
The Colorado End-of-Life Options Act officially legalized aid in dying for terminally ill patients with a six (6) month prognosis who are at least eighteen (18) years of age and capable of making and communicating their personal health care decisions. The patient’s diagnosis must be confirmed by two (2) licensed physicians. Patients may request a prescription for medication from a Colorado-licensed physician which allows them to end their lives.
The patient is required to make two (2) oral requests separated by fifteen (15) days and a written request to their physician. The written request must be signed by the patient and witnessed by two witnesses, one of which cannot be related to the patient, entitled to inherit from the patient or, associated with the health care facility where the patient is receiving medical care. At any time the patient may withdraw their request and the physician writing the prescription must give the individual the opportunity to withdrawal their request.
The requirement that the patient requesting the life-ending medication be mentally capable of making their own health care decisions rules out the use of such medication by anyone with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Currently, it’s not possible to include authorization for aid-in-dying in your Advanced Medical Directive so that if you develop dementia in the future your current wishes could be carried out, but that’s something estate planning clients are already requesting.
To learn more about aid in dying laws, and about Colorado End-of-Life Options Act check out the Colorado Health Institute’s report which can be found here: http://www.coloradohealthinstitute.org/key-issues/detail/legislation-and-policy/aid-in-dying.
About Jessica Showers
As an Estate Planning Attorney with Hammond Law Group, Jessica Showers focuses her practice on creating proactive and comprehensive estate plans for her clients. Mrs. Showers values learning what is truly important to each individual client and their families in order to ensure their interests are protected by their estate plan. More »