What Powers Do Personal Representatives Have?

Personal representatives, generally, have the same power to manipulate the property of an estate as would the decedent have had before she died.  Personal representatives have powers adequate to perform all the duties assigned to them.  One must recognize that though all personal representatives have all the powers listed here, and possibly other necessary powers that are not listed, non-intervention personal representatives exercise these powers without court supervision, while full intervention personal representatives exercise these powers only upon court order.

Specifically, personal representatives have the powers necessary to settle the estate rapidly as possible without loss to the probate or nonprobate assets.  RCW 11.48.010.  The personal representative has power to collect or pay decedent’s debts, sue or be sued (RCW 11.48.010), to take control of the real property and personal property of the decedent, including the rents and profits the those assets, to repair and maintain the property in his control (RCW 11.48.020), to continue any non-partnership business of the decedent (RCW 11.48.025), to be reimbursed for expenses he has incurred (RCW 11.48.050), to recover property wrongly taken from the decedent (RCW 11.48.060) and to cite persons believe to possess embezzled property from the decedent before the court to answer questions on pain of incarceration (RCW 11.48.070), to sue on the bond of a previous personal representative (RCW 11.48.120), to sue to recover property a decedent transferred to avoid the claims of decedent’s creditors (RCW 11.48.140), to recover the value of assets taken by a person purporting to be the decedent’s personal representative (executor de son tort) when she was not (RCW 11.48.180), to compromise claims owing to the decedent’s estate (RCW 11,48.130), to pay his reasonable attorney’s fees with regard to the estate administration (RCW 11.48.210), to pay himself according to the Will or such sums as the court approves for services as personal representative (RCW 11.48.210).

To avoid personal liability for a personal representative's acts, the personal representative should always sign, when he or she acts in a fiduciary capacity, by signing, followed by a comma and the words "Personal Representative" or "as Personal Representative" or "PR" or "as PR."  RCW 11.98.110.