The executor of an estate, called a personal representative in Oregon, and sometimes referred to as administrator, is legally responsible for protecting the assets of the decedent until the probate process is completed and the assets are distributed.
A personal representative is responsible for settling the decedent’s estate. The personal representative needs to ask the probate court to be appointed to serve. The personal representative will be issued Letters Testamentary, for a testate estate, or Letters of Administration, for an intestate estate. The personal representative must file an inventory of estate assets within thirty days of being appointed. Being appointed to serve gives the Personal Representative the authority to work with banks, credit unions, life insurance companies, brokerages, etc., to pay final expenses, make sure all lawful claims are paid, and finalize the estate. Once all claims and expenses are paid, the Personal Representative files a final accounting, or verified statement in lieu of a final accounting, and then distributes what remains of the estate assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will (testate estate) or heirs at law according to Oregon law (intestate estate).
No one has a legal obligation to serve as personal representative of a decedent’s estate, even if she/he is nominated in the will. However, someone needs to serve as the personal representative of the estate. If you are unable or unwilling to serve as personal representative, you can refuse, and the contingent personal representative will step in, or the court will name a new one. Any beneficiary, heir in an intestate estate, or creditor can petition to be named as personal representative of an estate.
You should consider this duty if you have the time, skills, and temperament to serve as personal representative. You need to be organized, keep good records, and be able to deal with stressful situations and/or beneficiaries or heirs to be a successful personal representative.
An experienced Probate attorney can help you understand your duties as personal representative and what the probate process will entail. Contact the probate attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.
If you would like to learn more about the probate process, click here to receive our FREE Legal/Financial Planning Guide.