Executor or Personal Representative

Executor or Personal Representative

An executor (also called personal representative or administrator in some states) is the person who will be in charge of your probate. He or she will:

  • gather your assets;
  • handle the sale of your assets, if necessary;
  • prepare an inventory;
  • hire an attorney; and
  • distribute the property.

This should be a person you trust, and if it is, state in your will that no bond will be required to be posted by him or her. Otherwise, the court will require that a surety bond be paid for by your estate to guarantee that the person is honest. It is best to appoint a resident of your state as executor, because a bond may be required of a nonresident even if your will waives it.

Some individuals select two people to handle the estate to avoid jealousy, or to have them check on each other's honesty. However, this is not always a good idea. It makes double work in getting the papers signed, and there can be problems if they cannot agree on something.

A bank can serve as executor of your estate, but their fees are usually high. Remember, the person handling your estate is usually entitled to some compensation. Some states specify a percentage, while others allow a reasonable hourly fee. A family member will often waive the fee. If there is a lot of work involved, the executor may request the fee, or other family members may insist that he or she take one. You can insist in your will that your executor or personal representative be paid a fee.

In many states, an executor or personal representative cannot sell your real estate without approval by the court. If you trust your executor, you can avoid the expense and delay of this by giving him or her the power to do so without court approval.