While many people feel honored to manage the financial affairs of a beloved friend or relative, some are unaware of what’s involved in being named the executor of an estate, known as a personal representative here in Oregon. The duty requires you to have a lot of patience, free time and solid organizational skills.

Personal representatives must be prepared to spend a lot of time overseeing the final wishes for another person’s estate. They may also need some investigative skills if assets are hidden or forgotten, and they should be prepared for potential conflicts between or with beneficiaries.

Understand the demands of settling an estate

Many people do not want to hurt the feelings of someone they love by turning down a request to manage their estate. However, before accepting they should ask themselves these questions:

  • Do I have the time? Closing out an estate can take months, and in some cases, years to complete. You may have copious amounts of paperwork to deal with, spend hours at a time dealing with banks, mortgage companies, life insurance companies and investment firms. You may also have to sort and value the deceased person’s assets.
  • Do I have the skills? People who have trouble managing their own financial matters are probably not good candidates. Executors often keep detailed records and document every interaction with lawyers, banks and others involved in the estate.
  • Do I have the temperament? Besides having the necessary organizational and financial skills, executors should have a lot of patience and be open and honest with all parties in settling the estate. A transparent approach will help beneficiaries relax during the process.
  • Do I know the rules? In Oregon, the only requirements are for a personal representative to be at least 18 years old and “of sound mind.” People with felony convictions aren’t ruled out providing the judge is notified in advance. If the agent is a lawyer, they must have a valid law license and be in good standing with the Oregon State Bar. People who live in other states are also eligible.
  • Can I afford it? If a fee is not determined in the will, Oregon law sets executor fees as a percentage of the estate’s gross value. The fees range from 7% of the first $1,000 to 2% of any amount over $40,000. The fees may not cover all your expenses, especially if you have extensive travel costs.

Seek legal guidance for managing an estate

Settling a beloved friend or family member’s estate can be a complicated process where mistakes can cause unnecessary expenses and delays. An experienced attorney here in Oregon who understands estate laws can help you successfully complete the process and honor your loved one’s request.