December 9, 2014

If you want to impress your doctor–show up at her office with your advance directive all filled out, signed, and witnessed.

Sometimes mistakenly called a “living will” an advance directive is the document that specifies whether you would like to be on life support if you are close to death, permanently unconscious, have advanced progressive illness, or are suffering extraordinarily. It’s also the document to name a representative to make those decisions if you’re not able. When family members have to make tough choices regarding your life, this form can give them a lot of comfort and relief. And it’s free! Not many people know that the standard Oregon Advance Directive is free online through the Oregon Insurance Division. It’s the exact same form I make sure every one of my estate planning clients has before they leave my office Here’s the link.

It's the exact same form I make sure every one of my estate planning clients has before they leave my office

Once you access the form, it’s easy to get confused reading it. It can sound repetitive and the form can be a bit depressing to read. Part B and Part C start to sound similar, but they actually perform different functions. Part B appoints a representative and Part C gives that representative and your doctors instructions about your preferences. If you’re someone who doesn’t want any life support or tube feeding, you can skip to Part C number 5 and initial the item that says “I do not want my life to be prolonged by life support. I also do not want tube feeding
as life support. I want my doctors to allow me to die naturally if my doctor and another knowledgeable doctor confirm I am in any of the medical conditions listed in Items 1 to 4 above.”

Make sure to sign your advance directive in front of a couple witnesses according to the form instructions and give your doctor a copy of the directive to put on file.

Congrats! You just did an important part of your estate planning.