By Stan Butterfield

What are the personal representative’s fees in Oregon? The short answer to this question is around two percent of the gross value of the estate. Often I am asked how much money a person gets paid for doing the work of a personal representative. This question usually comes up when someone has been named in a will as the person the decedent wished to serve as the personal representative. Usually the person named as the personal representative hasn’t served in this capacity before and doesn’t know the duties or what is involved and wonders if they will be paid for taking on this important responsibility. Sometimes I am asked this question because a family member interested in the estate wonders how much money the personal representative will get for their work.

accounting calculator with a paper trail

Who decides how much the personal representative makes?

The Oregon legislature has put into statute a formula for determining exactly how much a personal representative should be paid. The amount is determined by the value of the estate before bills are paid or any of the expenses of administering the estate have been paid. See Oregon Revised Statute 116.173. The formula takes into account the work that needs to be done even for a relatively low value probate estate. For this reason most personal representative’s receive $1,630.00 for the first $50,000.00 of value of the estate and then receive 2 percent of the value of the estate for everything above $50,000.00. The attorney handling the probate estate will help the personal representative calculate exactly how much they are entitled to receive and will prepare a request to the court approving the personal representative’s fee. A personal representative cannot receive a fee for their service without court approval.

Does the Personal Representative have to be paid?

No, the law does not require compensation, but there are some important considerations that both the person serving as the personal representative and family members interested in the estate should at least think about. In most cases, the job of the personal representative takes time and effort for ten to twelve months and it is a significant responsibility. I have had more than one case where family members have pressured the personal representative not to take a fee. The reason given is usually that the family believes the person should just do it for free as a service to the family. I think this shows a lack of understanding that the personal representative is doing a lot more than just hiring an attorney and filling out some forms. The personal representative can actually save the surviving family members or heirs a lot of money if they are able to do some things that otherwise the attorney handling the case would be forced to do and charge for in order to close the case properly. The other thing to think about is that if the person serving as the personal representative is doing all this work with no compensation they can naturally start to resent it. This can put a real strain on the relationships within the family.

Stan Butterfield is a probate attorney in Dallas, Oregon and practices in Polk, Marion, Yamhill, and Linn counties. If you think Stan could help you to probate an estate give him a call—(503) 623-2427.