An executor of an estate is appointed under a will pay the debts of the deceased and to distribute the remainder of the estate to heirs according the will’s terms. The orders of probate judges confirming such appointments are called “Letters Testamentary” because they are based upon the testament of the deceased. The executor (“executrix” is the feminine form) acts in the place of the deceased as his or her “personal representative” to carry out those written wishes.

In Georgia and Alabama, the probate statute uses the term “personal representative” instead of “executor” or “executrix”. I prefer the more archaic forms because they have fewer syllables and they cannot be confused with anything else.

When someone dies without a will, the probate court may appoint an “administrator” under an order called “Letters of Administration” under the court monitors the administrator’s actions in order to conform with the state laws of intestacy, which are essentially formulas which provide well for some relatives and not so well for others.