Advance Directives


An advance directive is a means of exercising control of an individual’s personal affairs in anticipation of a time when he or she may not be able to communicate them to others. Pre-planning provides individuals with an opportunity to record personal wishes for and can help to alleviate family and loved ones’ concerns over what care is appropriate. Adopting one or more advance directives can help to preserve a person’s autonomy, as well as possibly eliminating the need for legal intervention should the person become physically or mentally incapacitated.

These directives cover a variety of situations and can be adopted individually, together or only the specific ones that a person needs. They may cover financial and legal authority, medical decision-making, living wills and estate planning. This toolkit is not exhaustive, but representative of the most common and useful directives.

Adopting advance directives is often a difficult decision for individuals who have not yet considered end-of-life planning. However, such decisions should be made at the same time as executions of wills and other end-of-life documents, to ensure that the individual has sufficiently set out guidelines for the time leading up to his/her passing and not only afterward.

Part of making informed decisions also requires understanding what care options are available and under what circumstances an individual may have access to particular resources. In light of the ongoing global situation, we have provided additional resources about Colorado Crisis Standards of Care, which can inform what medical decisions may be available to particular citizens at different points of health care crisis.

Medical Directives

Learn about medical decisions you and your loved ones can make in advance and how to ensure that your medical treatment is guided by you when you may not be able to communicate your wishes.

Learn AboutMedical Directives

Financial Directives

Learn about how to protect your pocketbook, and ensure that your financial best interests are preserved, even if you are incapacitated. Pre-planning can help to manage your affairs.

Learn AboutFinancial Directives

Crisis Standards of Care

Read state recommendations for how the medical community should allocate scarce resources, such as ventilators and ICU beds, in the extreme case when needs exceed available resources.

Learn MoreCrisis Standards

Other Resources:

  • The Last Word: Advance Directives in Colorado, Colorado Health Institute
    This paper analyzes the new Colorado Health Access Survey data regarding advance directives, including their use by age, race/ethnicity and health status. It also examines efforts in Colorado to increase the use of advance directives.
    • Advance Directives, Colorado Gerontological Society
      We provide free downloadable, fillable and printable templates for the major advance directives, including Do Not Resuscitate, Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment, Powers Of Attorney, Medical Health Care Proxy and more.
      • Colorado Care Planning, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine
        State-wide free resources for Coloradans: helping Coloradans find information for future medical planning, including choosing a medical decision maker.