Anatomical Gifts—Making the difficult decisions during life and upon death – Estate Planning Attorney – Portland, Oregon

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The attorneys with Nay & Friedenberg explain your options regarding anatomical gifts.

During life, you may make a gift of all or part of his or her body for the purpose of transplantation, therapy, research, or education. If no such gift was made during life, a family member or representative may still donate your body, organs or tissue after you are gone. Oregon law allows for such post-mortem gifts. The rules for gifts during lifetime and after death are described below.

During Life. Adults and most minors age 15 and older have the right to make an anatomical gift during life. After making a gift, you may amend or revoke it at any time.

The statute provides a myriad of ways that a gift may be made during lifetime. You may make the gift by designation on a driver’s license or identification card, through a will, orally in front of two witnesses (one of whom must be “disinterested”; i.e., a person who would not receive such a gift); and by any written record signed by the donor including a donor card. If disabilities prohibit you from writing, you may still make a gift by directing someone else to sign on your behalf. That gift is valid as long as the other person signs the written gift in front of two adults, one of whom must be a disinterested witness (i.e., a person who will not receive your donation). Lastly, a gift may be made online. Oregon and Washington residents may do so through the Donate Life Northwest website,

Like the power to make, amend, or revoke a gift, a donor may also refuse to make such a gift in the same manner as described above. When a refusal is made, no anatomical gift may ever be made, even after death.

Donate Life Northwest maintains the donor registry for the states of Oregon and Washington. The Department of Motor Vehicles is a valued partner in assisting people to make such gifts as many l donors make gifts while registering for a driver’s license or identification card. The DMV provides those records to Donate Life Northwest.

You can also express your wishes in your estate planning documents, such as an Advance Directive or Will. The Advance Directive is preferable as it is more readily available than a will in most cases. Many times the will is not reviewed until several days after the disposition of the remains.

After Death. Even when no lifetime gift was made, an anatomical gift may still be made after death. The following persons, listed in the order of priority, have the right to make an anatomical gift after death: 1) a health care representative; 2) a spouse; 3) adult child; 4) parent; 5) adult sibling; 6) adult grandchild; 7) grandparent; 8) an adult who “exhibited special care and concern for the decedent”; or 9) a guardian.

For more information about anatomical gifts, visit the Donate Life Northwest website,

An experienced estate planning attorney makes all the difference in helping you to be sure you have the proper documents to fit your planning needs. Contact the Estate Planning attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.