Who is legally responsible for handling the probate process?

If there is a will, the Personal Representative (sometimes referred to as the “executor” or “executrix”) is usually responsible.  If there is no will, an “administrator” is appointed by the court as part of the probate proceeding and that person has the responsibility for managing the estate through the proceeding, subject to established probate rules and procedures.

In many states, the probate court has a considerable amount of control over the activities of the Personal Representative and requires that she or he obtain the prior permission of the court before certain actions, such as the sale of real estate or business interests owned by the estate, may take place.