A personal representative is a fiduciary who is responsible for managing the estate of a deceased person during estate administration. If the personal representative is named in the decedent’s will, they are referred to as the executor. The primary purpose of estate administration is to pay the debts of the decedent and to distribute their assets to the appropriate people or entities. However, to achieve those goals there are many tasks that the personal representative must complete under the supervision of the probate court, which in Oregon is the Circuit Court. The rules related to the duties and representative are found in Or. Rev. Stat. § § 113.005 et seq.
Appointment of the Personal Representative in Oregon
Typically, the personal representative is nominated by the decedent in their will. However, if that person is not able or qualified to serve or if the decedent did not have a will, then any interested party can petition the court to be appointed. Or. Rev. Stat. § § 113.035. There is a statutory order of priority for who is eligible for appointment starting with the surviving spouse of the decedent or the nominee of the surviving spouse. Or. Rev. Stat. § § 113.085
Even if the petitioner was nominated by the decedent in their will, the court will not grant a petition if the petitioner is a minor, is incompetent, has been disbarred, or is a licensed funeral service practitioner. Or. Rev. Stat. § § 113.095
In order to protect the estate, the personal representative may be required to post a bond of at least $1000 before the court will issue them letters that confirms their appointment. Or. Rev. Stat. § § 113.105
Duties and Responsibilities of the Personal Representative in Oregon
The personal representative has overall responsibility for completing tasks necessary to settle the decedent’s estate and distribute assets, including the following:
- Notify interested parties. The personal representative must notify interested parties such as beneficiaries and heirs that the probate proceeding has been initiated and their rights as interested parties. Or. Rev. Stat. § § 113.145
- Inventory and appraise the assets. For the estate to be properly secured and managed, the representative of the estate must take control of it, determine what is included in the estate, determine its value, and provide the information to the court. This information must be provided to the court within 60 days of appointment. Or. Rev. Stat. § 113.165.
- Pay estate debts. Another major responsibility is to pay estate debts. During the first 3 months of appointment, the personal representative is required to make a reasonably diligent effort to identify those to whom the decedent was indebted. In addition to publishing notice, the personal representative must mail each known creditor a notice with details about the claims period and how to file a claim against the estate. Or. Rev. Stat. § 115.003.
The personal representative can commence paying claims the day after the claims period ends. If there are not sufficient assets in the estate to pay all timely filed, valid claims, the personal representative must follow a statutory order of priority as follows:
- Support of spouse and children
- Expenses of administration
- Funeral expenses
- Debts and taxes owed to the federal government
- Medical expenses of the last illness of the decedent
- Taxes owed to the state of Oregon
- Debts owed employees of the decedent for work performed within 90 days immediately preceding the date of death of the decedent
- Child support arrearages.
Or. Rev. Stat. § 115.125
- Final account. A final account must be filed with the court. An account is a financial record that gives a detailed snapshot of the state of the account. The account will indicate the assets that came into the estate and the disbursements from the estate since the inventory was filed or since the last account was filed. It will also indicate the current value of the estate. Or. Rev. Stat. § 116.083.
- Distribute property. The administrator must get the approval from the court before distributing assets. All debt and expenses must be paid, and the Circuit Court must have approved the final account and petition for judgment. Then, assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will or, if the person died without a will, to the heirs of the decedent according to Oregon’s law of intestate succession. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 112.035 and 112.045
Payment of Personal Representative in Oregon
Compensation is determined by the terms of the will. If the will does not specify a fee, or if the personal representative renunciates the fee provided in the will, then Oregon law determines fees as a percentage of the gross estate subject to the jurisdiction of the court:
- 7% of any sum not exceeding $1,000.
- 4% of all above $1,000 and not exceeding $10,000.
- 3% of all above $10,000 and not exceeding $50,000.
- 2%of all above $50,000
In order to receive compensation, the personal representative must file a petition with the court. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 116.173