See also:Uniform Probate Code
In any jurisdictions in the U.S. that recognize a married couple's property astenancy by the entireties, if aperson diesintestate, the portion of his/her estate so titled passes to a surviving spouse without aprobate.If the estate is not automatically devised to the surviving spouse in this manner or through a joint tenancy,and is not held within atrust, it is necessary to "probate the estate", whether or not the decedent had avalidwill. A court having jurisdiction of the decedent's estate (a probate court) supervises probate, toadminister the disposition of the decedent's property according to the law of the jurisdiction and thedecedent's intent as manifested in his testamentary instrument. There are exceptions for smaller estates.If the decedent died without a will, known asintestacy, the estate will be distributed according to the lawsof the state where the decedent resided or held by the court.
If the decedent died with a will, the willusually names anexecutor (personal representative), a person tasked with carrying out the instructionslaid out in the will. The executor marshals the decedent's assets. If there is no will, or if the will does notname an executor, the probate court can appoint one. Traditionally, the representative of anintestateestate is called an
. If the decedent died with a will, but only a copy of the willcan be located, many states will allow the copy to be probated, subject to the rebuttable presumption thatthe testator destroyed the will before death
In some cases, where the person named as executor cannot administer the probate, or wishes to havesomeone else do so, another person will be named as administrator. An executor or an administrator mayreceive compensation for his service.The probate court may require that the executor provide afidelity bond, an insurance policy in favor of theestate to protect against possible abuse by the executor.
The representative of a testate estate who is someone other than the executor named in the will isan
administrator with the will annexed
, or administrator c.t.a.(from the Latin
cum testamento annexo
.)The generic term for executors or administrators ispersonal representative.[edit