Estate Planning 101: Difference between an Executor and a Personal Representative

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Estate Planning 101: Difference between an Executor and a Personal Representative

An executor  is a person named in a will and appointed by the Probate Court to manage and distribute the estate of a person who has passed away, in accordance with the terms of their will.  If the person named in the will is a male, he is technically called an executor and if they are a female they are referred to as an executrix.  Practically speaking the person named is universally referred to as an executor and the male / female distinction is largely irrelevant.

A few years back, Missouri started using the term personal representative instead of executor.  The name is different, the duties are exactly the same.  Other states often use the term personal representative also.

If a person dies without a will, or the will does not name an executor, or in some cases, the executor cannot serve or has been removed by the Probate Court, a person must be appointed to manage and distribute the estate and they are called an administrator in Missouri.  Again, the duties are the same as that of a personal representative, the difference being that the estate is distributed by a personal representative according to the will and if there is no will with an administrator appointed, then the estate is distributed by the laws of intestacy.