What is an Executor?

Executor vs. Administrator vs. Personal Representative  | Nevada Probate

After a person passes away, there needs to be someone in charge of administering his or her estate. This includes gathering up all of the decedent’s property, paying creditors, and distributing the left over property the decedent’s heirs.

In Nevada, this person is called the “personal representative.” If you were expecting this person to be called the “executor,” you’re not alone. Many people use the term executor to describe a person who is in charge of administering a deceased person’s estate. However, the term is actually a little more nuanced than most people expect.

Specifically, the term “executor” is only used if the deceased person’s will named someone to serve as personal representative. If not, then he or she is actually called the “administrator.”


Think about it this way: in the same way that all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs, all executors are personal representatives, but not all personal representatives are executors. The difference is whether or not the personal representative was specifically named as executor in the decedent’s will.

Regardless of whether the personal representative is an executor or an administrator, his or her powers and responsibilities are identical. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter what we call it and it’s okay to use the terms interchangeably outside of formal probate court proceedings.

Duties of the Personal Representative (a.k.a Executor or Administrator)

It’s the duty of the Personal Representative to administer the probate estate of the decedent. This includes, among other things:

  • Gathering and safeguarding the decedent’s assets
  • Locating the decedent’s last will and testament (and lodging it with the court)
  • Determining whether a probate proceeding is necessary (and hiring a probate attorney if so)
  • Finding the decedent’s heirs and notifying them of his or her death
  • Winding down the decedent’s affairs (including closing accounts, paying final bills, and filing final tax returns)
  • Distributing the decedent’s property to his or her heirs

If all of the above items seem like a lot of work, you’re right. Serving as personal representative of an estate is not an obligation to be taken likely. Fortunately, the personal representative is entitled to compensation based on the value of the estate, as well as reimbursement for out of pocket expenses.