Legal background to trusts & estates: appointing personal representatives
If there is a valid will, it names the personal representatives (known as executors).Naming executors in a will is merely an invitation to act. There is no obligation. If they accept, the executors are committed to the full duties of the office. These can be onerous.
If an executor declines the appointment (or is unable to act), the will may name an alternative executor. If it doesn’t, the courts appoint a personal representative (known as an administrator). The administrator obeys the terms of the will.
The female equivalent of an administrator is an administratrix.
No valid will
If there is no valid will, the courts appoint a personal representative (known as an administrator). The administrator obeys the rules in the laws of intestacy.
Personal representative is also a beneficiary
An individual acting as personal representative may also turn out to be a beneficiary. It is important to distinguish between the two capacities.