Definition: Personal Representative for Probate

The Personal Representative, also known as the Executor (male) or Executrix (female), is the person who is designated by the will of deceased to administer their estate and handle the distribution of its assets to those entities designated by the provisions of the will. Unless there is some valid objection or the person designated refuses to serve in that capacity, the probate court will appoint the person who is named in the will to serve as the personal representative.

It is the duty of the personal representative to ensure that the deceased person’s wishes, as expressed in the will, are carried out. Some of the tasks that may be required to be performed by the personal representative include determining and protecting the specific assets of the estate; obtaining information (name and location) in regard to all beneficiaries named in the will and any other potential heirs; collecting and arranging for payment of the debts (if any) of the estate; approving or contesting any claims made by creditors; making sure estate taxes are calculated and paid, filing any required forms, and assisting the attorney for the estate (often selected by the personal representative if not specified in the will).

The Personal Representative of an estate has a Fiduciary responsibility to the estate – meaning they must always act in the best interest of the estate. If a PR does not meet their Fiduciary responsibility, there could be serious legal consequences. Think long and hard before you accept a role of Personal Representative.