How does this process work? You can object to the appointment of a Personal Representative (PR) but it requires finding the legal basis for the objection.
For example, the statutes require that the PR be ‘qualified’ and ‘suitable’. ORS 113.035. This means willing to follow the rules, honest, diligent, etc. A PR who misappropriates funds, who fails to post a required bond or who is not diligent in the administration of the estate should be removed. However, it does not mean that a PR must be the world’s most able PR. Just able enough.
Another reason for objecting to a PR is if he or she has a conflict of interest with the estate. For example, if the PR owes money to the decedent and does not believe that he or she should pay it. Or a PR who is living in the decedent’s home without paying at least some rent may be breaching his or her duties. Merely being a beneficiary is not a conflict.
The statutes also prohibit certain persons from serving as PR such as minors, incompetent persons, disbarred lawyers and funeral home practitioners. ORS 113.095.
Keep in mind that if the decedent died with a valid will, the PR is nominated in the will. It is more difficult to object to the appointment of someone who the decedent chose in the will. If the PR died without a will, or what is called ‘intestate’, the PR can be any person with an interest in the estate. That can include a creditor of the estate. However, Oregon law has an order of priority beginning with a spouse, next of kin, etc. In this intestate scenario, the court is more willing to listen to objections to a PR.
To contest a PR is a substantial job. It requires requesting the removal and often additional remedies such as accounting, a denial of PR fees or the PR’s attorney fees. Sometimes there may be a request for a surcharge for the wrongful damages caused by the PR. The objection may lead to mediation or a court hearing with witnesses and evidence.
It is important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure changes to documents are made correctly. Contact the Estate Planning attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.
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