When the estate of a deceased Texas resident needs to be settled, a person needs to be put in charge of handling the tasks involved with that settlement. Typically, this occurs through probate administration, and the person in charge is commonly known as the executor. However, if the deceased individual did not choose an executor, the court may need to appoint a personal representative.
A personal representative carries out the same duties as an executor, and the terms are often used interchangeably. He or she has a fiduciary duty to the estate, meaning that the representative must act in the estate's best interests. Additionally, the personal representative does not have to be a single person. The court could choose to appoint a financial institution to oversee the final affairs or some other entity.
In most cases, state laws indicate that the court should choose a surviving spouse or another close relative to act as the personal representative. Another term that individuals may hear when referring to a personal representative is "administrator." This term typically applies when a personal representative is appointed to an estate for which the deceased did not create a will.
Understanding the different terms associated with a personal representative is only one part of probate administration. The person, people or institutions appointed to these roles have a number of obligations and a considerable amount of responsibility. Often, it is wise to have legal assistance throughout the proceedings because they can quickly become complex and must adhere to Texas state laws for administration.