Essential Estate Planning Knowledge – Medical Directives

Almost everyone who creates an estate plan in the Colorado Springs or Centennial, Colorado area will include medical directives as a key part of their plan. Medical directives, also known as advance medical directives or advance directives, are documents that allow you to protect your wishes in the event you become incapacitated and require medical treatment. Note, even though many people commonly refer to them as “advanced” directives, this is a misnomer. These documents are “advance” because you make them prior to meeting them. Today, let’s take a look at Colorado medical directives and why your estate plan will rely upon them.

Medical Directives in Colorado

A medical directive is a specific document that allows competent adults in the state of Colorado to make certain kinds of choices that will apply in the event they need medical care in the future, yet are unable to express or make knowing choices. There are five main types of advance medical directives available to Colorado residents today. These include Living Will, the CPR order or do-not-resuscitate order, a health care power of attorney, an organ and tissue donation declaration, and a declaration for the disposition of last remains.

Living Wills

One of the most well-known advance directives is the living will. Also referred to as a “declaration as to medical or surgical treatment,” a living will is a document that allows you to express your choices about the kinds of medical treatment you wish to accept or refuse in the event you become incapacitated. As long as your living will complies with the legal requirements, health care providers are legally obligated to follow the wishes you express in it.

A Five Wishes booklet is another form of an advance directive, which includes a living will. Five Wishes talks about your personal, emotional, and spiritual needs as well as your medical wishes.  It lets you choose the person you want to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself.  Five Wishes meets the legal requirements for an advance directive in 42 states (including Colorado).  In the other eight states, the completed Five Wishes can be attached to the state’s required form.

Powers of Attorney

Another vital advance medical directive available in Colorado is the health care power of attorney. Sometimes referred to as a medical power of attorney, or a medical or health care power of attorney, this document allows you to name a medical representative who will have the legal authority to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated. Your health care representative, or agent, will be able to communicate with your doctors, review your medical history, and determine what kind of health care you do or do not receive should you lose the ability to make choices.


A do-not-resuscitate order, also called a DNR or CPR order, expresses your wishes not to receive health care treatments that will restart your heart or breathing should either of those bodily systems fail. DNR orders are commonly included with other advance medical directives that explain your medical wishes in more detail.

Last Remains and Organ and Tissue Donation Declarations

Declarations about your last remains and your organs and tissues allow you to determine what you want to happen with your body, and its parts, after you die.  In Colorado, you can find a Declaration of Disposition of Last Remains by contacting an elder law attorney.  This form can be filled out simply, but it needs to be signed by the person who it is regarding and notarized by a notary.

Call Us With Your Questions

If you’re a client of Hammond Law Group, you likely have your advance directive already set up, but do your children?  Advance directives are such an important document to have, so if you don’t have one already, contact our office to set yours up today.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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