Appointment of Person to Make Decisions Regarding Disposition of Remains
This is the first in a new series of articles about various aspects of estate planning in Oregon. Look for more articles on estate planning topics in the future.
For many people, one of the main purposes of estate planning is to try to avoid the nightmare scenario of your family and loved ones fighting over your estate after your death. Along with that, disputes may arise about who should be in charge of disposing of your physical remains.
Fortunately, in Oregon, it is fairly easy to resolve these potential disputes in advance by using a simple estate planning tool with an unwieldy name: an “Appointment of Person to Make Decisions Concerning Disposition of Remains.”
Under Oregon law, you have the right to control the disposition of your remains. In addition, you have the right to delegate your authority to control disposition of your remains to another person. In Oregon, the delegation occurs by a written document called the “Appointment of Person to Make Decision Concerning Disposition of Remains.” For the sake of brevity, this article will refer to that document as an “Appointment.”
To sign an Appointment, you must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old. Your signature must be witnessed by two people; those two people must also sign your Appointment as witnesses. The form of the Appointment document is set out by law in Oregon Revised Statutes § 97.130(7).
There are a few situations when your Appointment may be supplanted. For example, if you make a donation of anatomical gifts, such as organ donation, that donation takes priority over your Appointment. Or, if neither your estate nor the person you have appointed has sufficient funds to pay for the disposition of your remains, if the disposition is unlawful, or if your Appointment is not valid, then the disposition of your remains would be directed by your closest surviving relative who agrees to be financially responsible for your remains.
What happens if you do not make a written Appointment? Oregon law sets out a hierarchy of your closest family members and other persons to make decisions for you. The hierarchy starts with your spouse, then your adult children, then your parents, then your adult siblings, and so on.
If you have questions about Oregon’s Appointment of Person to Make Decision Concerning Disposition of Remains and whether you should sign an Appointment as part of your estate plan, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.