The person who carries out the plan for settlement of an estate is called a "personal representative." This can be a family member or trusted friend, a bank with trust authority, or a trust company.
The court determines whether a proposed personal representative named in a will or trust is legally competent to serve. If legally competent, the court will appoint that person. If there is no will or trust naming a personal representative, a personal representative is named by the court.
Settlement of a decedent's estate involves continual contact with the court. Various legal rights and responsibilities must be determined. For that reason, the personal representative should hire an attorney for assistance. The choice of an attorney is made by the personal representative, although a person can state in his or her will or trust a preference for a particular attorney to help in administration of the estate. If the decedent’s debts exceed the estate’s assets, you should consult an attorney before taking any action with the estate.
VII. Personal Representative: To Carry Out Your Wishes
Legally Secure Your Financial Future. The series also includes information to help you organize important household papers and to communicate your health-care wishes.