Executor (female form: executrix) is also a legal term referring to a person named by a maker of a will, or nominated by the testator, to carry out the directions of the will. Typically the executor is the person responsible for offering the will for probate, although it is not absolutely required that he or she do so. The executor's duties also include the disbursement of property to the beneficiaries as designated in the will, obtaining information about any other potential heirs, collecting and arranging for payment of debts of the estate and approving or disapproving creditors' claims. An executor also makes sure estate taxes are calculated, necessary forms are filed and tax payments made, and in all ways assists the attorney for the estate. Also the executor makes all donations as left in bequests to charitable and other organizations as directed in the will. In most circumstances the executor is the representative of the estate for all purposes, and has the ability to sue or be sued on behalf of the estate. The executor also holds legal title to the estate property, but may not use that property for the executor's own benefit unless expressly permitted by the terms of the will.
A person who deals with a deceased person's property without proper authority is known as an executor de son tort. Such a person's actions may subsequently be ratified by the lawful executors or administrators if the actions do not contradict the substantive provisions of the deceased's will or the rights of heirs at law.
Where there is no will, a person is said to have died intestate - "without testimony". As a result, there can be no actual 'testimony' to follow, and hence there can be no executor. If there is no will or where the executors named in a will do not wish to act, an administrator of the deceased's estate may instead be appointed. The generic term for executors or administrators is personal representative.