Colorado: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law for Colorado. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

If you or a loved one live in the Centennial State, there are plenty of specific state laws and forms you need to be aware of, especially if you're trying to set up a will, trust, pay an inheritance tax, or get your medical records.

To help you abide by the necessary Colorado laws and acquire the correct documents for your specific needs, here’s a complete list of medical, legal, and estate planning forms to get your important documents organized and plan for whatever the future brings.

Essential Colorado Medical State Laws & Forms

Advance Directive (Living Will) and Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST)

In Colorado, nobody can automatically make decisions regarding healthcare for another adult – including their spouse, adult children, or physician. The Medical Power of Attorney (also known as a Power of Attorney for Healthcare) grants a chosen person authority to make medical and treatment decisions should you become incapacitated.

Medical Power of Attorney is designated via the Advanced Medical Directive (sometimes called a living will) documents a person’s wishes about their end-of-life preferences should they be diagnosed with a terminal illness or unable to communicate, such as in a vegetative state.

In Colorado, your living will doesn’t go into effect until 48 hours after two doctors have documented that you cannot make decisions for yourself.

The Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) documents your wishes for life-saving interventions, including CPR, ventilation, and other treatment. It is a doctor’s order, so you need to fill it out with your personal care provider and have them sign it.

Some individuals, especially frail elderly for whom CPR will arguably do more harm than good, wish to direct emergency responders and healthcare personnel not to initiate CPR if they are found without breathing and without a pulse. The CPR Directive must be signed by the individual (or their healthcare agent) and their physician.

How Long Do Doctors in Colorado Keep Medical Records?

In Colorado, patients’ medical records are retained for a minimum of 7 years after the last date of treatment, or 7 years after the patient reaches age 18, whichever occurs later. Some types of records, such as x-rays, must be retained for a minimum of 10 years. 

Hospitals must keep medical records for 10 years after the last treatment, or longer in the case of a minor. (28 years minus the minor’s age at last treatment)

A Guide to Consumer Rights Under HIPAA: Medical Record Rights in Colorado 

  • Patients have a right to access their own medical records, although the provider may charge a copying fee.
  • Patients have a right to amend the record for accuracy or completion
  • Patients have a right to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
1961 Stout Street - Room 1426
Denver, CO 80294

(303) 844-2024; (303) 844-3439 (TDD)
(303) 844-2025 FAX

Call OCR at 1-800-368-1019 if you need help filing a complaint or have a question about the complaint form.

Death with Dignity (Physician-Assisted Death or Aid in Dying)

Coloradans 18 years or older, who meet all of the following criteria may qualify for physician-assisted death:

  • Diagnosis of a terminal illness
  • Life expectancy less than six months
  • Mentally capable to make the decision
  • Able to self-administer the medication

For more detailed information about this important decision:

Mail completed forms to:

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Vital Statistics Program
Attn: Kirk Bol
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246-1530

Or email:

kirk.bol@state.co.us

Colorado Organ Donor Registry

Every Coloradan can save up to 8 lives by signing up to be an organ donor, and they can also save or heal more than 75 lives by becoming an eye or tissue donor. Anyone is eligible to sign up for organ, eye and tissue donation, regardless of age or medical condition. Learn more about organ donation at DonorAlliance.org.

You can sign up when you apply for or renewing your driver’s permit, license, or ID card. Or sign up anytime at DonateLifeColorado.org.

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Registry in Colorado

Coloradans can apply for a medical marijuana card for the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Cachexia
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe pain
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • An Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Any condition for which a physician could prescribe an opioid

For more information about medical marijuana in Colorado see any of these links:

Essential Colorado Legal & Estate Planning Documents & Forms

Durable Financial Power of Attorney

The General Durable Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Financial Power of Attorney) gives another person authority to manage financial affairs if you are not able to do so.

How to Create a Will in Colorado

Wills in Colorado should be in writing, and should ideally be notarized or signed in the presence of two witnesses. Colorado is one of the few states that will recognize holographic wills (handwritten wills), provided the entire document is written out (not typed and then signed). However, these types of wills are not particularly strong.

Handwritten wills are open to many questions about whether it was truly written by the deceased, whether they had capacity at the time, or whether they were under undue influence, so they may come under intense scrutiny by the courts.

Learn how to create a will with this complete guide

Colorado Trust Laws

Colorado has adopted the Uniform Probate Code, which simplifies estate planning. Large or complex estates still greatly benefit from trusts, which can avoid probate altogether, easing any burden on family members. Trusts also allow greater control over the distribution of assets, for example, keeping assets in the trust until a minor reaches a certain age.

Read more about Trust Registration Statements and 11 different types of trusts to avoid slow and costly probate laws whenever possible.

Colorado Probate Laws

Probate is the legal process to transfer assets from a deceased person to the people named in the will, or to heirs named by the court. Colorado uses the Uniform Probate Code, which is designed to simplify the probate process considerably. In Colorado, small estates under $60,000 and with no real property can skip probate with an affidavit process.

Read more to learn what happens if you die without a will?

How to Get a Death Certificate in Colorado?

Certain individuals are authorized to request a death certificate in Colorado, including:

  • Immediate family
  • Extended family or others in certain circumstances (must provide proof of direct and tangible interest)
  • Legal representatives of the deceased, or the family member
  • The physician of the deceased
  • Funeral director
  • Employer of the deceased
  • Insurance companies, if they are processing death benefits
  • Probate researchers
  • Creditors 
  • Informant listed on the death certificate
  • Genealogists representing immediate family members with appropriate credentials 

In addition to proof of direct and tangible interest (if applicable) other documentation may be required. You must provide proof of relationship (for example, marriage certificate, birth certificate, court order, etc.) as well as a photo ID or another valid form of identification (for example: Certificate of U.S. Citizenship, Alien Registration Receipt/Permanent Resident Card, Employment Authorization Card, Passport). 

Also be prepared with the full name of the deceased, place and date of death, the reason for your request, and your relationship to the deceased. If the death was over 75 years in the past, the death certificate becomes public record, and no proof of relationship or legal interest is required.

For information on current costs, consult Colorado's vital records fee schedule.  

Requests can be submitted in person or via mail to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Vital Records Section HSVR-VR-A1
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246-1530

Estate and Inheritance Tax Rates and Laws

Colorado has no estate or inheritance tax.

Digital Estate Planning Laws

SB16-088 Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act allows a deceased person’s representative or trustee to access and manage digital assets and electronic communications.

A Complete Guide to Colorado State Laws & Forms

Like most states, Colorado has its own special set of laws for everything from Colorado probate laws to adoption, divorce, civil union, guardian and conservatorship, identity theft, name change, and many other matters. You can find additional forms and documentation at the Colorado Judicial Branch Forms page.

Whatever you need to store, Pillar will be there to help you keep your most important legal documents safe, secure, and organized with our easy-to-use online storage tool. Start your free 14-day trial today and find if Pillar is right for you!