Advance Directive – FAQ

What is the Advance Directive (AD)?
Oregon’s Advance Directive is the legal document that allows you to make your health care wishes known if you are unable to speak for yourself. The AD can serve one or both of these purposes:
• Health Care Representative (legally appoint a person to speak for you)
• Instructions for Health Care (to indicate your wishes)
Why should I complete an Advance Directive?
If you are 18 or older you should consider completing an AD. You never know when you may unexpectedly be in a position where you cannot speak for yourself, such as an accident or illness. In these situations having an AD completed assures that your doctor and your health care representative know what your wishes are. They are not left guessing and wondering what you would want.
If I appoint a Health Care Representative, what can that person do?
Your representative can make all decisions for you, just like you would if you could. They can choose your doctor and where you will receive your care, speak with your health team, review your medical record and authorize its release, accept or refuse all medical treatments and make arrangements for you when you die. You need to talk to your representative regarding all of these matters(and document them in your health care instructions) so he/she knows what you want. The more information you give them the easier it will be when they have to make these decisions for you.
When does my Health Care Representative make decisions for me?
Your representative will make decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself. However, if you want, your representative can speak on your behalf at any time, even if you are still capable of making your own decisions.
What if I don’t want to appoint a Health Care Representative or don’t have someone to appoint?
You do not have to appoint a Health Care Representative. If you choose not to have one, you can still complete part C of the AD titled “Health Care Instructions”. This will give your doctors the information they need to guide your care.
Can I have more than one Health Care Representative?
Family members are usually involved in the decision making process and the majority of the time that works well. Occasionally, people will disagree about what is best. Oregon’s law allows one person as your Health Care Representative and an alternate in case your representative is not available. You can also indicate on your form if there is someone that you do NOT want to make decisions for you.
Don’t doctors make all of the life-and-death decisions?
Doctors will tell you about your medical condition, and what your treatment options are. They can provide guidance, but the decision to have a treatment, refuse a treatment or stop a treatment is yours.
Can my physician supersede my Health Care Representative’s Instructions?
Your Health Care Representative has the authority to speak for you. If you physician or health care facility is unable or unwilling to carry out your wishes, your representative may transfer you to the care of another physician or facility.
What if I don’t have an Advance Directive and something happens to me?
If you can no longer speak for yourself, the doctor will be required to follow Oregon’s law and ask one of the following persons in this order:
• Legal Guardian
• Living Spouse
• Majority of Your Adult Children
• Close Friends
Do I need an attorney to help me complete my Advance Directive?
No. Completing an Advance Directive is not difficult and an attorney is not necessary. If you prefer to have assistance there are attorneys that specialize in this area. The most important part of completing your AD is to talk with your loved ones. Without having the conversation, your form may not be helpful.
Who can witness my Advance Directive?
Two witnesses are required to witness your AD. Be sure to read the witnessing requirement carefully under Part D “Declaration of Witnesses”.
Who can be my witnesses if I live in a nursing home?
If you live in a nursing home when you sign your AD, one of the witnesses must be an individual designated by the nursing home. Your second witness must not be a relative, anyone entitled to a part of your estate upon death, or an owner/employee of the nursing home. Your second witness can be a friend, pastor, neighbor, nursing home roommate, volunteer, etc.
What is the difference between a health care power of attorney and the Health Care Representative?
In 1993, the Oregon Legislature combined the “Health Care Power of Attorney” form and the “Directive to Physicians” form into one document – Oregon’s Advance Directive
Old Laws Became New Law
 Health Care Power of Attorney (Valid for 7 years)  → → → →  Advance Directive
 Directive to Physicians or Living Will  → → → →  Advance Directive


Is my Advance Directive good in other states?
Many states have their own form of the Advance Directive and they may or may not honor Oregon’s although it would certainly carry weight as an expression of your wishes. If you reside part-time in another state, it would be a good idea to obtain that state’s official forms and complete them. Oregon does honor other state’s forms for non-residents.
What is a POLST form?
POLST is a medical order for those with advanced illness or frailty. A POLST should be completed with a person’s health care professional to direct the kinds of treatment wanted in a medical crisis. For a seriously ill person, POLST orders help to give more control over the treatments a person does or does not want to receive in a medical crisis. A POLST form does not replace the Advance Directive.
What do I do with my Advance Directive once I have completed it?
Make copies for all those who are close to you including your attorney if you have one. Take a copy to your doctor and ask that it be included in your medical record. Keep a copy for yourself in a visible, easy-to-find location.
What if I change my mind?
You can revoke your Advance Directive at any time.
Do doctors or hospitals require a patient to have an Advance Directive?
No, they cannot require you to complete one. Doctors and hospitals should have information available for you about the Advance Directive and your right to make health care decisions.