How is a Personal Representative of an Estate Appointed?

There are three ways in which a personal representative of an estate is appointed:

  1. A personal representative can be appointed by a will of a testator, who designates one or more people to serve as Executor.
  2. The beneficiaries under  a will can choose someone as personal representative if the decedent died intestate (without a valid will), the will does not name an Executor, or the Executor named in the will is unable or unwilling to serve as personal representative.
  3. A court can appoint a personal representative if the beneficiaries under a will cannot agree on a personal representative.

The appointment of a personal representative by the testator or by agreement of the heirs or beneficiaries is not effective unless and until an order is signed by the court.

The court order serves as the official appointment and allows the personal representative to receive letters testamentary or letters of administration from the clerk in order to proceed with the administration of the estate.

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