Colorado’s End of Life Law: Death With Dignity
How the state of Colorado treats terminal illness with the new end of life law is about to change significantly which results in a substantial change to estate planning. The End of Life Options Act was certified by Governor Hickenlooper at the end of 2016. This law makes it legal for a terminally ill, mentally capable adults can obtain life-ending medication. The law also makes it legal for health care providers to prescribe the medication and for pharmacies to fill prescriptions.
Designed after Oregon’s Death with Dignity law, the law was in passed in 1997 and mandates some specific qualifications that individuals must follow to be eligible for a life-ending prescription. Many individuals are confused about the difference between death under this Act and suicide. Individuals in support of “death with dignity,” in which a terminally ill person is allowed the option to end their life, argue that this behavior does not constitute suicide because an individual will certainly die within a short period. If you or loved one is terminally ill and interested in pursuing a death with dignity option, the assistance of a knowledgeable Colorado lawyer can prove to be especially useful with end of life legalities.
Requirements Under the End of Life Options Act
To qualify for the End of Life Options Act, an individual must be at least eighteen years old, a Colorado resident, mentally capable of communicating health care decisions, and diagnosed with a terminal illness that will result in the individual’s death within six months. The individual also must be capable of self-administering and ingesting aid in dying drugs.
Requesting Medication that Will Aid in the Death Process
Even if an individual meets the criteria mentioned above, certain requirements must be fulfilled to request medication that will assist in the dying process lawfully.
- Ability to Withdraw. The patient must be offered the opportunity to remove the application for medication before the prescription is granted.
- Diagnosis. The physician and one other doctor must confirm the patient’s diagnosis as well as prognosis. These physicians must also make a determination that the patient has the capacity to make their own medical decisions.
- Notification. The doctor prescribing the information will ask the patient to notify their next of kin concerning the request for medication.
- Psychological Test. Before providing the individual with medication, the individual must take a mental evaluation and be deemed competent to make a request for medication that will facilitate dying. The individual must be determined not to be coerced or influenced by any other individual in making the request for medication.
- Two Request. The individual must make two verbal requests to their physician that occur at least fifteen days apart for the end of life law to be considered.
- Written Request. An individual must provide a written request to a doctor that is signed by two qualified witnesses who are adults.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Familiar with
Colorado's End of Life Law
Power of attorney plays a significant role in a variety of cases. At Whitcomb, Selinsky, & McAuliffe, PC, our lawyers can help individuals create a power of attorney documents as well as help with various complications that might arise with these types of relationships. Do not hesitate to contact our practice online or call us at (866) 476-4558.