Oregon: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law for Oregon. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

Planning for your death or incapacity may feel morbid or like something that can wait for another day, but creating the needed documents and storing them in a safe, accessible place is one of the most helpful things you can do for those you leave behind.

To help you out, we've put together a list of the most essential Oregon forms, documents, and state laws that you need to know about to ensure your medical wishes are followed and that the things you leave behind find their new owner.

Essential Oregon Medical State Laws & Forms

Oregon Medical Records & Death Certificates

How long do doctors keep medical records in Oregon?

Oregon law requires that medical practices store patient’s medical records for at least 7 years from the last patient encounter. The Oregon Medical Board recommends that physicians keep patient records at least 10 years and indefinitely if space permits.

The medical board also recommends that practices provide a copy of the medical records within 30 days of receipt of written request. Records may not be withheld because of inability to pay or an outstanding bill.

Where do I get copies of a death certificate in Oregon?

Death certificates are an official record of the date of death and cause of death of a deceased person. The probate court, banks, life insurance companies, and other entities related to the wrapping up of affairs may require a copy.

There are three ways to obtain a death certificate:

  1. Obtain it online through the Oregon Health Authority vendor VitalChek.
  2. Mail an order form to Oregon Vital Records. See complete instructions here. You can also request rush orders by mail.
  3. Order by telephone by calling 1-888-896-4988.

Advance Directive Laws in Oregon

Oregon recognizes that the more difficult it is to make advance directives, fewer people will do it. Or remember where they are once they've filed them. As such, Oregon created a state advance directive form that combines the content of the traditional living will and power of attorney into one document. Oregon also offers two options for do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.

How to make a medical power of attorney and living will in Oregon

Oregon combined the power of attorney and living will into one form: State of Oregon Advance Directive. By completing or constructing the above document, you can ensure your wishes are followed, even if you are no longer able to voice them. They also relieve your loved ones of the burden of trying to guess your wishes or make difficult decisions on their own

All statutes relating to living wills, DNRs, powers of attorney, and the Death With Dignity Act can be found in Title 13 of the Oregon Revised statutes.

Download the simple 6-page advance directive form for Oregon here.

What are living wills, DNRs, and powers of attorney?

  • Living wills are documents that you make during your life to describe what life-saving measures, if any, you want should you be unresponsive and unable to tell the doctors yourself. Common issues addressed are feeding tubes and hydration and length of time you may want to receive these treatments. 
  • Do Not Resuscitate orders (DNRs) indicate whether you do or do not want chest compressions or electric shock to stimulate your heart if it stops beating.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care allows another authorized person to make decisions regarding your healthcare, and this form designates that decision-maker, also called the attorney-in-fact. When a power of attorney form is designated as durable, that means that the agent’s power remains even after your incapacity. 

How to make create a DNR with medical wishes if you have a terminal illness in Oregon

For those with terminal or serious illnesses, Oregon has Portable Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST).POLST is a medical order that you would get from your doctor, but you can see a sample online. The form is meant to complement the advance directive form.POLST identifies your wishes regarding CPR and medical interventions if you are non-responsive, including ventilation, comfort measures, and hospital transfer. 

Your POLST form will be sent to the Oregon POLST Registry, which is a database that allows physicians to access your POLST form regardless of where in the state you seek treatment.

The Oregon Death With Dignity Act

Oregon law permits adults to determine the end of their life when faced with terminal illness in its Death With Dignity Act (DWDA). The DWDA permits Oregonians to self-administer a lethal dose of medication prescribed by a physician. Oregon is one of only 10 states with a medical aid in dying law.

Read more about DWDA and how to access it at deathwithdignity.org.

How to Become an Organ Donor in Oregon

To designate yourself as an organ donor, register with Donate Life North West, visit your local DMV to put a heart code on your license,or call 1-800-452-1369 to request a paper application.

Essential Oregon Legal & Estate Planning Laws, Documents, and Forms 

Oregon Probate Laws and Process

Probate is an umbrella term for the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person (the decedent) with or without a will. Property that passes directly to the new owner by the right of survivorship, trusts, or payable-on-death beneficiary arrangements are not subject to probate procedures and are called non-probate property. 

In Oregon, much of the probate process takes place outside of court as the executor inventories the estate, determines heirs, and settles the debts before releasing funds or property to heirs. The court’s primary roles are to give the executor or personal representative authority to act via an order of appointment, settle any disputes that arise, and approve the account of money paid out of the probate estate. 

Oregon probate proceedings can be commenced as soon as 30 days after the death of the decedent and last a minimum of four months

The full laws concerning probate are available in Title 12 of the Oregon Revised Statutes.

What if I only have a small estate?

Estates consisting of no more than $75,000 in personal property and no more than $200,000 in real property qualify for a simplified procedure called voluntary informal administration of small estates. 

Consult your local circuit court’s website for local instructions and forms. Read the complete statutes concerning small estate administration here.

Oregon Trust Laws

There are two types of trusts: living trusts and trusts created by a will upon death. Laws governing both types of trusts can be found in Oregon state statute.Oregon has not created statutory forms for the creation of a trust, but many websites online sell them, and an attorney can draft one.

Living Trust

A living trust (or inter vivos trust) is a trust that you make while you are alive. Beneficiaries of the trust receive the trust assets upon your death, or at another time determined by the terms of the trust. Property in the trust will be considered non-probate, and will be disposed of according to the terms of the trust rather than by will or probate law.

In Oregon, you can transfer up to $75,000 of personal property and $200,000 in real property to your trust with the small estate affidavit, if so designated in your will.

Testamentary Trust

Trusts can be created by a will upon the death of the Settlor (the person who funds the trust). 

The will directs assets into the trust, and the trust acts as a vessel for holding the assets until they are distributed to beneficiaries. Trusts are commonly used to hold money for children or for disabled people.

Read more about the biggest differences between a will and a trust, and why you might want to avoid Oregon’s probate requirements when planning your estate.

How do I set up a will in Oregon?

The basic requirements to create a valid will in Oregon are:

  • The testator must be 18 years of older;
  • Of sound mind;
  • The will must be in writing; and 
  • Signed by the testator and two witnesses.

Holographic (handwritten) wills are valid if they meet the above requirements. Oral wills are not valid. Read the complete set of Oregon rules regarding the execution of wills in the Oregon Revised Statutes.

Does Oregon have laws about my digital estate?

Oregon adopted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act in 2017. The Act permits users to grant authority in their wills or other writing to their personal representative or other fiduciary to access their online accounts. This can take several forms depending on the discretion of the custodian of the digital accounts. The custodian may provide:

  • Full access to the user’s account;
  • Limited access to perform certain tasks as defined in the will or other writing; or
  • A copy of what the user could have seen had they logged in the day of the request;

A user may designate a recipient in a will, trust, or power of attorney.

Will I have to pay estate or inheritance taxes?

Oregon imposes an estate transfer tax when assets are transferred to heirs and beneficiaries and an estate income tax if the estate owns assets that generate income. Read more about the requirements online at the Oregon Department of Revenue. Both federal and Oregon estate taxes apply only to high-value estates and will be inapplicable to the average person. For the 2021 tax year, the federal threshold is $11,700,000 and the Oregon threshold is $1,000,000. 

Three types of taxes may be involved when dealing with the estate of a deceased person: 

  1. Taxes on the transfer of the assets to beneficiaries (estate transfer tax or inheritance tax)
  2. Taxes on income created by assets of the decedent’s estate (estate income tax). 
  3. Final taxes on the income of the decedent up to the date of death (final return)

For information about filing these returns, review the IRS publications for filing final returns and for filing estate income taxes.

Everything You Need to Know About Estate Planning in Oregon

Oregon has a number of unique state laws when it comes to your medical records, inheritance taxes, wills, trusts, and estate planning. Navigate the strict probate process and lax estate tax with confidence with your customized (and organized!) Pillar account. You can scan, store, and share your most important state documents when you need them with Pillar's secure and easy-to-use online storage tool for you and your family.

Start your free 14-day trial today and see if Pillar is right for you.