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This response is a cop-out. The terms executor, administrator, and personal representative aren't simply based on local preference.

A "personal representative" is the person in charge of the estate, regardless of how he or she got the job. An "executor" is a person who is nominated by a will and appointed as the personal representative after the will is admitted to probate. An "administrator" is a person, over than an executor, who is appointed as the personal representative.

In California, at least, there is another category - "administrator with will annexed." That term applies to a person appointed to administer a will when they were not the executor named in the will, or when the original will cannot be found and the court is probating a copy.

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