A Brief Introduction to Oregon Advance Directives

One of the most important decisions a person can make concerns their wishes for medical treatment in the event of incapacitation, illness, or other potential end-of-life scenarios. Under these circumstances, documents known as advance directives will allow you to plan for such an eventuality by clearly expressing your wishes regarding medical treatment and medical intervention, as well as designating a trusted person to oversee your medical care. A qualified Oregon attorney can help you create your individualized advance directive to allow you the peace of mind of knowing that you will receive the medical treatment that you desire, without undergoing any treatment that you do not want.

There are two types of documents that are necessary in order to properly plan for circumstances in which you are incapable of making your own decisions regarding the type and level of medical care you desire: a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care.  In Oregon, these two types of documents are combined into a single document called the advance directive.

A living will allows you to express in advance your wishes for the type of medical treatment you want to receive. You may also express limitations on what kind of medical intervention can be administered to you, including whether you want to end life support, in four special circumstances: if you are close to death, experiencing extraordinary suffering, permanently unconscious, or have an advanced progressive illness. Two physicians must confirm that one of these special circumstances exist before withdrawing or withholding treatment.

A durable power of attorney for health care allows you to designate a trusted person to be in charge of ensuring that your wishes as expressed in the living will are fulfilled. When choosing a health care representative, you must select someone who is over the age of 18. The chosen representative does not have to be related to you, nor do they need to be a resident of Oregon. Your health care representative should not be any of the following: your doctor, an employee of your doctor, or anyone associated with the facility in which you will be receiving treatment. Above all else, your health care representative should be someone that you trust and who is familiar with your wishes regarding medical treatment.   

Again, Oregon law has combined the living will and durable power of attorney into the advance directive form. An advance directive allows you to express your medical treatment wishes and appoint a health care representative in one document. The document must be signed by two witnesses and can be revoked at any time. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you create an advance directive that is legally enforceable and accurately represents your wishes for future medical care.

An advance directive is important in that it allows you to pre-determine whether you want life-saving medical intervention or if you do not wish to receive care through life-support systems. Without an advance directive, your medical treatment will be determined by family members who may not agree with or understand your wishes, or determined by doctors or even judges who have never met you. An advance directive allows you the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be honored through your health care representative and that you will receive the medical treatment that you want, and not receive medical treatment that you do not want.

If you would like to take control of your future medical decisions by creating an advance directive, please contact The Law Offices of Clarke Griffin, LLC today.

Written by Clarke Griffin

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