Probate in Tennessee : What does an Executor do?
Typically when a person (Testator) executes a Last Will and Testament he/she nominates and appoints an Executor (Executrix – female) to administer the estate upon death. However, the appointment of an Executor or Executrix is not the end of the matter. When the Testator dies and the Last Will and Testament is admitted to Probate Court for administration the Court must approve the Executor and appoint that person as the Personal Representative of the Decedent’s Estate. The Probate Court which is usually the Chancery Court in Tennessee issues Letters of Testamentary which is the official court document appointing the Executor as Personal Representative of the Estate.
The Executor as Personal Representative in Tennessee Probate
The Personal Representative acts as a fiduciary for the benefit of all of the beneficiaries of the estate (devisees, legatees and heirs) as well as the creditors of the decedent. Often times the Personal Representative is also a beneficiary of the estate, but when acting in the official capacity this person must act only for the benefit of all of the beneficiaries and the creditors. This is the very reason that Tennessee law requires the posting of a bond, unless it is waived by the Will, when a probate is opened. Most often the Probate Court will also require the Personal Representative to have an attorney.
Acting as a Personal Representative involves an awesome responsibility, and should be taken very seriously. In the event that a Personal Representative encounters a conflict of interest (personal interests v.s. fiduciary responsibilities) then the Personal Representative should consult an attorney separate from the estate attorney, and may need to resign and allow the court to appoint an independent administrator.