An executor of an estate is a person or institution who Settles the Estate of a deceased person, and carrying out the instructions written in their Last Will and Testament.
The executor is legally responsible for managing this process, known as Probate, which requires that they file the will in Probate Court, identify and value the Assets of the Estate, pay any outstanding Debts or taxes, and distribute remaining assets to Heirs and Beneficiaries named in the will.
The executor has a Fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries, and may be compensated for their services, or penalized if something should go wrong.
It's important that the executor be trustworthy, organized, and capable of handling the responsibilities of the role because they can be held liable if the estate is mismanaged purposely or accidentally, and loses value.
If no will exists at the time of death, then state law will dictate how probate court will choose someone for the position; in this case, this person is known as an Administrator and bears all the same legal responsibilities of an executor.
Also known as Executor of Estate, Estate Administrator or Personal Representative.