Who should be in charge? What duties are expected of a Personal Representative? Are they entitled to payment?

A personal representative is charged with the responsibility of administering the estate in accordance with Oklahoma law. They will be responsible for protecting and distributing the assets of the estate, receiving any payments due to the estate, determining and paying all outstanding debts and taxes. As a part of the probate process, the court will issue letters testamentary, letters of administration, or letters of special administration. This document is often used to show banks or financial institutions that the personal representative has the authority to act on behalf of the estate.

If there is a will, it likely names who should act as personal representative (or executor) in the administration of the estate. If there is no will, Oklahoma law prescribes preference, in order, is given to the following: The surviving spouse or some competent person whom he or she may request, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, next of kin, creditors, any person legally competent, or surviving member of a partnership.

Although many do not accept payment for their duties, a personal representative may be entitled to payment for their services in that capacity. When no compensation is provided by the will or the personal representative waives it, Oklahoma law allows the personal representative to recover a certain percentage of the estate, based on its value. Additionally, a personal representative could be entitled to be reimbursed from the estate for costs they advance in estate administration. For example, funeral costs, costs of probate, and attorney's fees are usually able to be paid out of the estate if there is ample money available. However, not all costs are subject to reimbursement or there may not be enough money to do so after other necessary costs are paid. For example, the decedent may have a car payment or mortgage payment. The personal representative must proceed at their own risk when making these types of payments, because reimbursement may not be possible It is recommended you contact an attorney before proceeding to make any payments.