An Oregon Advance Directive helps you prepare for medical situations where you’re unable to communicate your health care preferences to a doctor or emergency personnel.
In Oregon, your advance directive gives you the ability to select someone as your health care agent. Your health care agent is responsible for making medical decisions in your best interest in the event you can’t physically or mentally make those decisions clear.
1. What is an Oregon Advance Directive?
An Oregon Advance Directive is an estate planning document designed to outline your wishes for healthcare if you become incapacitated one day. This document allows you to select an agent, who will be charged with making decisions on your behalf should a qualified physician determine that you lack the mental capacity to do so yourself. Additionally, you can highlight which life-extending treatments you might eventually want or wish to avoid.
Although emotionally challenging to complete, your Oregon Advance Directive form will grant you greater confidence not only in your future, but also in the future of your loved ones. Once you’ve completed your advance directive, you can rest easy, knowing that you will be cared for according to your wishes.
As you complete your advance directive in Oregon, you may observe one or more of the following terms, which are outlined in Section 127.505 of the Oregon Revised Statutes:
- Attorney-in-fact: Sometimes referred to as an agent, this person is appointed to make healthcare decisions when you become incapacitated.
- Health care representative: Similar to an attorney-in-fact, this person can either be explicitly designated to make decisions on your behalf or may be appointed by the court to take on this critical role.
- Attending physician: In Oregon, the primary doctor responsible for your care is known as your attending physician.
- Instrument: This term refers to any advance directive, court appointment, or court order governing medical decisions.
- Principal: The principal is the person who creates the advance directive or seeks a health care representative. If you are currently drafting an advance directive, you will be referred to as the principal.
It’s important to note that an Advance Directive can also be referred to as:
2. Who Should Have an Oregon Advance Directive?
An advance directive can benefit nearly any Oregon resident over the age of 18. This document not only provides valuable protection for your future healthcare, but it can also offer current peace of mind.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your future. That being said, certain life situations tend to prompt advance directives in Oregon, a few of which are highlighted below:
- Job loss
- Changing professions
- Having children
- Adopting a child
3. How to Select Your Agent
Often referred to in Oregon as a health care representative or attorney-in-fact, your agent is responsible for making a variety of decisions on your behalf. A wide array of people can take on this important role, but not all are capable of handling the responsibility.
Many Oregon residents select their spouse or other close family members as agents. Others prefer to shield loved ones from this responsibility, which can carry a great deal of emotional weight.
Regardless of your relationship with your preferred agent, you should feel confident that this person will make key healthcare decisions according to any wishes or directions stated in your Oregon Advance Directive form. Keep in mind that some people could find this challenging, especially if they hold differing moral or religious convictions.
Beyond personal preference, requirements for selecting agents are surprisingly minimal in Oregon. Section 127.505 of the Oregon Revised Statutes states that your agent or attorney-in-fact must be an adult. This person cannot also serve as your witness.
You are eligible to select an alternate attorney-in-fact, who would take over as agent if your primary representative is unable to fulfill his or her duties. This person should also abide by the requirements outlined in the Oregon Revised Statutes.
Who Is Not Allowed to Serve as Agent?
Section 127.520 of the Oregon Revised Statutes prohibits attending physicians from serving as agents unless they are related to you by blood, adoption, or marriage. Likewise, the owner of your healthcare facility cannot be appointed to this role after you have been admitted to said facility.
4. Which Decisions Can Your Agent Make on Your Behalf?
Your Oregon Advance Directive gives your selected agent a variety of powers and responsibilities, as described in Section 127.535 of the Oregon Revised Statutes. These include the following:
- Receiving and reviewing all materials and notifications regarding your care
- Making decisions related to medical treatments or prescription medications
- Withdrawing you from life-sustaining procedures, including the use of artificially administered hydration or nutrition, if granted your explicit permission.
Section 127.535 of the Oregon Revised Statutes also states that your agent’s authority over healthcare decisions does not render him or her responsible for ensuing medical expenses.
Which Decisions Are Prohibited?
According to Section 127.540 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, your agent cannot consent to the following on your behalf:
- Convulsive treatment
If not granted permission, your agent may also be barred from making decisions regarding life-sustaining procedures.
To empower your agent to make non-healthcare-related decisions on your behalf, use an Oregon general power of attorney form.
5. What to Do if You Change Your Mind
You may currently have full faith in your agent, but that could change with time — especially if you get a divorce or suffer a falling out with your original agent. Thankfully, it’s easy to change powers of attorney in Oregon.
Section 127.545 of the Oregon Revised Statutes highlights your ability to revoke your advance directive simply by creating a new and valid document. You can also revoke your advance directive by communicating your intentions to your healthcare provider. Once your attending physician learns of your revocation, he or she is responsible for submitting this change as part of your medical record.
Your advance directive may be suspended if both your agent and alternate agent withdraw. If your agent is your spouse and you complete a petition for dissolution or annulment, your Oregon Advance Directive could also be suspended — unless you explicitly state otherwise.
6. How to Complete Your Document
Depending on your preferences, your Oregon Advance Directive form may purely cover the basics or go into specifics. Either way, you’ll want to spell out any key criteria that are especially important to you.
Before your document becomes legally valid, it must be signed in the presence of two adult witnesses. At least one of these witnesses should not be related by blood or be a healthcare employee at the facility in which you are treated. Signing before a notary public is strongly recommended.
Drafting and reviewing your advance directive can be an emotional process, but it will ultimately prove worthwhile. You will find considerable relief in knowing that, in the worst-case scenario, your wishes will be carried out and you will receive exactly the level of care you desire.