The degree, quantity, nature, and extent of interest that a person has in real and Personal Property. Such terms as estate in land, tenement, and hereditaments may also be used to describe an individual's interest in property.
When used in connection with probate proceedings, the term encompasses the total property that is owned by a decedent prior to the distribution of that property in accordance with the terms of a will, or when there is no will, by the laws of inheritance in the state of domicile of the decedent. It means, ordinarily, the whole of the property owned by anyone, the realty as well as the personalty.
The person appointed to administer the estate of a person who has died leaving a will which nominates that person. Unless there is a valid objection, the judge will appoint the person named in the will to be executor.
The executor must insure that the person's desires expressed in the will are carried out.
Practical responsibilities include gathering up and protecting the assets of the estate, obtaining information in regard to all beneficiaries named in the will and any other potential heirs, collecting and arranging for payment of debts of the estate, approving or disapproving creditor's claims, making sure estate taxes are calculated, forms filed, and tax payments made, and in all ways assist the attorney for the estate (which the executor can select).
If a stranger takes upon him to act as executor without any just authority. (as by intermeddling with the goods of the deceased, and many other transactions,) he is called in law an "executor of his own wrong," de son tort. 2 B1. Comm. 507. [Blacks 1st]
He is, in general, held responsible for all his acts, when he does anything which might prejudice the estate, and receives no, advantage whatever in consequence of his assuming the office. He cannot sue a debtor of the estate, but may be sued generally as executor.
The usurpation of an office or character cannot confer the rights and privileges of it, although it may charge the usurper with the duties and obligations annexed to it. On this principle an executor de son tort is an executor only for the purpose of being sued, not for the purpose, of suing. In point of form, he is sued as if he were a rightful executor. He is not denominated in the declaration executor (de son tort) of his own wrong. [Bouvier's 1856]