An Executor is the person who is nominated in the Last Will & Testament of a deceased person (“the Decedent”) and formally appointed by the Probate Court to carry out the terms of the Decedent’s Last Will & Testament and to administer the Decedent’s estate in accordance with applicable law (i.e., the Executor is the person who is “in charge” of the Decedent’s estate). An Executor may also be referred to as the Personal Representative of the Decedent’s estate. Historically, a female Executor was referred to as an Executrix, but this term has become less frequently used with the passage of time.
When a person is formally appointed by the Court to serve as the Executor of the Decedent’s estate, he or she receives Letters Testamentary, which is the formal document that allows the Executor to obtain possession of the Decedent’s assets and to open an estate banking account from which the Decedent’s debts and the expenses of administration can be paid. If a Decedent died without a valid Last Will & Testament in place (i.e., if a Decedent died intestate), then the person who is formally appointed by the Court to be in charge of the Decedent’s estate is referred to as the Administrator of the Estate and he or she receives Letters of Administration, which document provides the Administrator with the same authority over the deceased person’s estate that Letters Testamentary provides to an Executor.