An introduction to appointing personal representatives
A guide for personal representatives covering what is a personal representative, what the core duties are, and how to manage probate and estate administration.
A personal representative is the person, or it may be more than one person, who is legally entitled to administer the estate of the person who has died (referred to as ‘the deceased’).
The term ‘personal representatives’, sometimes abbreviated to PR, is used because it includes both executors and administrators. For most tasks involving dealing with an estate the tasks executors and administrators have to carry out are the same. Whenever we refer to personal representatives the content applies to both groups of people. Any references to executor or administrator means the information applies only to that specific role.
When someone dies their assets held in their own name only are frozen. Personal representatives are the only people who can access the assets in order to deal with the estate. Depending on the value of the estate, the personal representatives may have to obtain a legal document (the Grant) to show they have accepted the role.
A Will normally names one or more people to administer the estate, known as the executors. Executors obtain a Grant of Probate, from a section of the court known as the probate registry, which grants them the power to manage the estate.
If there is no will, or if the people appointed as executors are unwilling or unable to act, the estate will instead be sorted out by an administrator. The administrator will usually be a close relative of the person who has died, if there is one. In order to be an administrator, the person must apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration from the court which grants the power to unfreeze the assets and administer the estate.