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The importance of a living will for all adults

Some individuals in Colorado may think of estate planning as something that is only for older people, and this may be particularly true when they consider end-of-life care. However, a catastrophic accident or illness can strike anyone at any time, and a living will is one way to ensure that one's wishes are carried out even when one is too incapacitated to express those wishes.

A living will also removes the burden from family members of wondering what their loved one would have wanted. Without a living will, families may agonize over whether to leave an individual on life support and at what point an individual no longer wishes to be resuscitated.

A living will may also name someone to act as the health care proxy. This is a designated individual who will make all the medical decisions for the incapacitated individual. With these provisions in place, families can have a much clearer picture of how to proceed in the case of a loved one's illness or accident.

An individual who is estate planning and putting together a living will may wish to consult an attorney. An attorney can help to ensure that the documents are done correctly and use the right language.

An attorney may also be able to suggest other provisions that an individual might want to add. For example, individuals with children may wish to name someone as their guardian. It may also be necessary to appoint someone to look after financial matters. This may or may not be the same person who is the health care proxy. An attorney may also be helpful with other aspects of estate planning such as writing wills or establishing trusts that specify how assets will be distributed to heirs.

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