You Should Always Name a Family Member as Your Personal Representative**

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Posted Sep 20

Until a recent death in the family abruptly dragged me into the executor/executrix (“Personal Representative” in Oregon) world, I had no clue how humongous and complex a job you assign to someone by making them your Personal Representative in your will. ORS 114 gives you a pretty good idea.

I did not know, for example, a Personal Representative must comply with these two requirements:

  1. You are required to hire an attorney
  2. As of 2/2/2015 you are required to take a “Non-Professional Fiduciary Education & Training” course within 60 days of being appointed as Personal Representative by the court.
And there’s more.  As Personal Representative:
  • You must immediately take possession of all decedent’s assets & file an inventory- including estimated values -with the court within 60 days.  This may not be a fun job if significant property is on “loan” to friends or family.
  • You must not commingle the decedent’s assets with your own or anybody else’s.  So don’t transfer that bank account to yourself just yet (unless you are a TOD beneficiary).
  • You cannot loan estate money to anyone without the court’s approval.  And never to yourself.
  • You must set up a separate checking account in the name of the estate & keep detailed records of every deposit and disbursement
  • If you pay certain documented estate expenses out of your own pocket, such as funeral expenses, you may reimburse yourself from the estate.  If you were owed money by the decedent, you can’t pay yourself without written permission from the court.
  • You can’t give estate property to anyone without permission from the court.
  • You have the authority to “”discontinue and wind up any business or venture in which the decedent was engaged at the time of death” (114.305(23).  Since your primary obligation is to preserve and enhance the value of the estate, what if you unwittingly unwind a profitable venture that might continue adding cashflow to an estate?
Having dug deeper into the role of Personal Representative, I recommend that you:
  • Give careful thought about who you know that can be trusted, competent and willing to go through all this.
  • Possibly designate a lawyer and/or other professionals (CPA, investment adviser, realtor) to work with your Personal Representative.

Your Constructive Comments are Welcome!

**The furthest intention of this post is to be legal advice.  It is not, nor intended to be.  It is no more than the conveyance of the author’s personal experience and layman’s view of the ORS.  Consult with your estate planning attorney in all such matters.