Although both Living Wills and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders state your healthcare wishes for certain situations, the creation, applicability, and specifications for each document vary greatly. We include a Living Will with each of our estate plans, but this document is often confused with a DNR Order. Since we believe it is important our clients understand the documents we provide, we will discuss the many differences between a Living Will and DNR Order below.

Will Vs. Living Will

First, let’s get a better understanding of what each document is: 

  • A Living Will is a document that covers the administration, withholding, or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures if you are determined to be in a vegetative state. In the state of Colorado, this means that two licensed physicians must make a medical determination that there can be no recovery from your terminal or vegetative condition before they cease any life-prolonging procedures.
    • Life-prolonging procedures can include any procedure that would serve to artificially prolong your lifespan (ventilators, pacemakers, transfusions, feeding tubes, renal dialysis, et cetera).
  • A DNR Order is a medical order that notifies personnel they should not attempt to resuscitate a patient. This means that if a patient stops breathing or their heart stops beating -under any circumstances, no form of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) should be administered. 
    • The various forms of CPR can include compressions and breaths, breathing tubes (intubation), defibrillation, medications, et cetera. 

If you are thinking these documents are something you want to have in place, it is important you know how they are created.

  • The Living Will is a legal document that is drafted by an attorney. It will be signed by yourself, a notary public, and two witnesses. If you are a current estate planning client of our firm, you most likely have this document in place. Once you sign a Living Will, you can provide your primary care physician with a copy so they are aware of your wishes. 
  • A DNR Order is also a legal document, but it is one to be discussed with and created by a doctor; this is not something an attorney can provide for you. If you decide a DNR Order is something you would like to be effective for yourself, your doctor will sign the order and place it on your medical file.

We know that thinking about these ‘what if’s’ in life can be uncomfortable, but it is important to be prepared for them. Creating a comprehensive estate plan provides your family with healthcare documents that expressly state your wishes should these unimaginable circumstances occur. If you have further questions about the Living Will or need to create one, please reach out to or give us a call (719) 292-1888 and we are happy to help!