Advanced Directives

Colorado residents have the ability to create five types of advance directive. Advanced directives, also known as medical directives, are legal documents that allow you to make health care decisions in anticipation of one day losing your ability to make or express your choices. These documents allow people security in knowing that should they one day become incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate, their healthcare providers and doctors will know what kinds of medical treatments they want.

As with any estate planning document, you have no legal obligation to create an advance directive in Colorado. If you choose to make these documents you also retain the ability to make changes to them whenever you like. If you have an advance directive that you need to update, or are considering creating an advance directive and want to know what you will need to do if you one day change your mind, here is what you need to know:

Mental Capacity

Anytime you talk about medical directives you first have to be certain that you have the ability to make them. Essentially, any adult can make an advance directive as long as the adult is mentally sound. The vast majority of people are mentally sound, so almost everyone can make or change an advance directive whenever they like.

However, if the court has determined that you are incapable of making your own decisions, or you are suffering from a debilitating illness, mental condition, or are otherwise unable to make knowing decisions, you cannot create or change an advance directive.

Changing your Advanced Directives

Whether you want to update a living will, change who serves under a healthcare or medical power of attorney, or want to change any advance decision you’ve made, updating your documents in Colorado is fairly straightforward. All advanced directives in Colorado must be in writing. If you want to make a change you will have to make a new document that states your new choices. You will have to sign and date these documents as well.

Personal Instructions

After you create your advanced directives you will want to make sure that your doctor and/or your family receives a copy. If you are ever incapacitated, your doctor and/or your family will use the directives to determine the kind of care that’s appropriate.

However, if you are currently under a doctor’s care and want to make medical choices that are contrary or different than those you expressed in your advanced directives, you can simply tell your doctor what you want. As long as you’re mentally capable, your doctor will still have to honor your choices.

In the end, making an advanced directive is about making your medical choices known. Take the time to create these documents properly, and changing them as needed, is essential if you want to protect your medical decision-making rights.

National Healthcare Decisions Day

Today, April 16th, is National Healthcare Decisions Day.  This day brings awareness to those who have not yet set up any advanced directives, and also reminds those who already have advanced directives to talk about their choices with their loved ones.  If you have questions about setting up healthcare directives, or are thinking of changing the documents that have already been set up, contact our office today.  We will be happy to help with what you need.  And remember, your decisions matter!

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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