Practice Areas


Wendell L. Belknap
411 5th Street
Oregon City, OR 97045

Tel: 503-657-8946
Fax: 503-655-2775

Email Wendell


Advance Directive

It is no secret we live in an aging society. While we live in an aging society, we live in a society which, because of technological advances, allows us to keep people alive longer than ever imagined previously. This technology, however, does not allow for our own personal notions of dignity and quality of life, which notions mandate that while we may be able to keep a person alive as a matter of science, that person is no longer alive spiritually or emotionally. Many people believe that death-with-dignity is better than staying alive through artificial means. Acknowledging this fact, Oregon provides for preparation of a document known as an Advance Directive, which document is prepared on behalf of and signed by, and specifies how the party signing the document wishes to be treated if that party is dying, but can no longer make life-care choices. Under those circumstances, this “Advance Direction” to that person’s providers, as well as the world, specifies how the party signing the “Advance Directive” wishes to be treated in light of life-changing, but usually terminal, life circumstances. I believe strongly in this form of advance direction by the signing person. I have watched family members as their lives are changed by this process, and I will help by preparing an “Advance Directive” for others facing these circumstances so as to alleviate these difficult emotional decisions.

Who Should Have an Advance Directive?

By creating an Advance Directive, you are making your preferences about medical care known before you are faced with a serious injury or illness. This will spare your loved ones the stress of making decisions about your care while you are permanently incapacitated. Any person eighteen (18) years of age or older can prepare an Advance Directive.

I recommend that all people have an Advance Directive, regardless as to their age or health status. Even a healthy young person does not know when an illness or trauma may strike giving rise to the need for such a document. And, the need for such a document is particularly acute for people who are seriously ill or are otherwise likely to be in a compromised, but ultimately terminal, health condition. There is no right answer as to what level of medical treatment should be provided for a person in terminal care. While I know what I want in these circumstances, my desires may not be your desires. Preparation of an “Advance Directive” will let the world know what your wishes are if you are in a terminal condition, but are no longer able to speak for yourself as to how you wish to be cared for in your final days. For that reason, an “Advance Directive” is almost always advisable.