A vital part of your Oregon estate plan

Many of us worry about what will happen if a traumatic event suddenly injures or incapacitates us. These things happen to people of all ages and all walks of life. Unfortunately, many of them may not have estate planning documents in place. In these cases, medical decisions are handled by an individual known as an Oregon health care surrogate. (You might also see it as “healthcare surrogate”).

In the estate planning world, there are many designations that are good to know. Understanding the individual and legal rights you may give a healthcare surrogate is critical.

With the right legal instruments, you can appoint your Oregon health care surrogate

You appoint an Oregon health care surrogate to make health and medical decisions for you, in the event of incapacitating illness or injury.

The surrogate is not someone you appoint legally. Typically medical staff appoint one for you. This process is a default for anyone who hasn’t designated a court-appointed guardian, or what is known as a “medical power of attorney.” For some, having a doctor or nurse appoint a healthcare surrogate isn’t stressful. However, most people prefer having more power to choose who handles these important decisions.

Most of the time, the appointed healthcare surrogate is a family member such as a spouse, parent, or adult child. Medical staff such as your attending physician or advanced practice nurse will be charged with naming your surrogate. They then must make a reasonable effort to find your next of kin, often in the following order:

  • spouse,
  • adult children,
  • parents,
  • adult siblings,
  • adult grandchildren,
  • close friends.

More and more Oregonians are choosing to name a surrogate in their estate plan

The surrogacy decision becomes more complicated where those individuals aren’t present, or in the cases of non-traditional relationships, unmarried couples, and blended families.

This is one of the many reasons more people include the medical power of attorney (MPOA) in their estate plan. This document gives you control to appoint the able-minded adult you wish to have in charge of your medical decisions.

What your health care surrogate can do

Your surrogate has the power to make many different medical decisions, including:

  • any decision to give, withhold, or withdraw informed consent to any type of health care, including but not limited to: life-prolonging interventions, medical and surgical treatments;
  • psychiatric treatment;
  • hospitalization;
  • nursing care;
  • treatment in a nursing home;
  • home health care;
  • and organ donation.

Appoint your healthcare surrogate in your Oregon estate plan

Learn more about the healthcare surrogate designation, and how this differs from the medical power of attorney: