When a person dies and probate is necessary, a court will appoint a personal representative to oversee the winding up of the decedent’s affairs. The duties of the personal representative are:
- to inventory and collect the decedent’s assets;
- to manage the assets during administration;
- to receive and pay the claims of creditors and tax collectors; and
- to distribute the remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
The person charged with responsibility is called an Executor or Administrator depending on whether he or she has been named in a will. Executors and administrators are classified as “personal representatives” of the estate.
If a person dies leaving a valid will, and the will names a person who is to execute the will and administer the estate, this person is called an Executor.
However, when the person in charge of administering the estate is not named in a will, that person is called an Administrator. Administrators are appointed by, under the control of, and accountable to a court, generally referred to as a probate court.