The Personal Representative

So who actually sees to the implementation of a will?  With any estate administration, an entity will be named to act as the estate’s representative. When a decedent leaves a will that names the person who is to carry out the terms of the will and administer the probate estate, that person is generally called an executor. If the will fails to nominate an executor, the court will assign an administrator to fulfill the role of an executor. Likewise if an individual dies intestate the court will appoint an administrator. Whether through testate nomination or court appointment, the person assigned to administer the probate estate can generally be called the estate’s personal representative.

To receive authorization as an estate’s personal representative it is generally sufficient that the person receive letters testamentary (for an executor) or letters of administration from the court. With the appropriate letters and a death certificate, the personal representative is able to act on behalf of the estate to administer its affairs. The personal representative remains in charge of the estate until the process is completed. He or she is paid out of the assets of the estate as part of the expenses of administration. The personal representative has a fiduciary relationship with the estate, and thus has stringent duties of care, loyalty, and good faith in carrying out the estate’s affairs.


Image by: Gary Cope