Legal Definition and Related Resources of Executor

Meaning of Executor

One appointed by a testator to carry out the directions and bequests in his will and to dispose of the property according to his testamentary provisions after his decease. A woman thus appointed is called an executrix , although the term executor may apply to a woman if that is the term written in the will by the testator. An executor holds strictly a representative capacity . He stands in and enforces the right of the testator. The executor in equity is looked upon as a quasitrustee for the beneficiaries. Bank of U.S. v Beverlev, 1 How. 134, 11 L.Ed. 75. An executor’s duties comprise, among other things , the duty of proving the will in the surrogate or probate court and obtaining the probate, paying the debts of the deceased and paying the legacies and rendering an account . The authority of an executor is derived from the testator, and therefore letters of probate, when granted, have relation back to the death of the testator. In re Miller’s estate , 65 A. 681,216 Pa. 247. The administrator , on the other hand, derives his authority from the surrogate court and the letters of administration have no backward relation nor any retroactive effect whatever. Glidden v Rines ( supra ). The assets of the testator vest in the executor even without the grant of a probate. Wall v Bissell, 125 U.S. 382, 8 S.Ct. 979, 31 L.Ed. 772.

Executor Alternative Definition

One to whom another man commits by his last will the execution of that will and testament. 2 Bl. Comm. 503. A person to whom a testator by his will pommits the execution, or putting in force, of that instrument and its codicils. Fonbl. Rights & Wrongs, 307. Lord Hardwicke, in 3 Atk. 801, says: The proper term in the civil law, as to goods, is haeres testamentarius ; and ‘executor’ is a barbarous term, unknown to that law. And again: What we called ‘executor and residuary legatee’ iS, in the civil law, ‘universal heir.’ Id. 300. The word executor, taken in its broadest sense, has three acceptations: (1) Executor a lege constitutus, he is the ordinary of the diocese. (2) Executor ah episcopo constitutus, or executor dativus, and that is he who is called an administrator to an intestate. (3) Executor a testator constitutus, or executor testamentarius, and that is he who is usually meant when the term executor is used. 1 Wms. Ex’rs, 185. 1- General Executor. One who Is appointed to administer the whole estate, without any limit of time or place or of the subject matter. Special Executor. One who is appointed or constituted to administer either a part of the estate, or the whole for a limited time, or only in a particular place. Instituted Executor. One who is appointed by the testator without any condition, and who has the first right of acting when there are substituted executors. Substituted Executor. A person appointed executor if another person who has been appointed refuses to act. An example will show the difference between an instituted and a substituted executor. Suppose a man makes his son his executor, but, if he will not act, he appoints his brother, and, if neither will act, his cousin. Here the son is the instituted executor in the first degree, the brother is said to be substituted in the second degree, the cousin in the third degree, and so on. See Swinb. Wills, pt. 4. § 19, pi. 1. Rightful Executor. One lawfully appointed by the testator, by his will. Deriving his authority from the will, he may do most acts before he obtains letters testamentary; but he must be possessed of them before he can declare in an action brought by him as such. 1 P. Wms. 768; Wms. Ex’rs, 173. Executor de Son Tort. One who, without lawful authority, undertakes to act as executor of a person deceased. Executor to the Tenor. A person who is not directly appointed by the will an executor, but who is charged with the duties which appertain to one; as, I appoint A. B. to discharge all lawful demands against my will. 3 PhlUim. Ecc. Law, 116; 1 Ecc. 374; Swinb. Wills, 247; Wentw. Ex’rs, pt. 4, § 4, p. 230.

Synonyms of Executor


  • administrator
  • administrator of a will
  • administrator of the decedent’s estate
  • administratrix
  • custodian
  • delegate
  • fiduciary
  • legal representative
  • person in charge
  • person in responsibility
  • person named to carry out the provisions of a will
  • personal representative
  • representative of the decedent
  • trustee
  • Associated Concepts: administor
  • administrix
  • ancillary executor
  • custodian
  • executor named in a will
  • executorship expenses
  • executrix
  • guardian
  • independent executors
  • probate court
  • surrogate’s court

Definition of Executor in the Free Online Notary Dictionary

A Person In Charge Of Carrying Out The Provisions Of A Will.

Find similar definitions of the Executor concept in the Notary Dictionary, to be used to allow for comparison of legal terms meanings.

Related Entries of Executor in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Executor in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Executor in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Executor in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abb
reviations containing Executor in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Administrator, Beneficiary, Caution, , Devastavit, Encroach, Executor De Son Tort, Executrix, Letters Of Administration, Liability, Limited Executor, Personal Representative, Precatory Trust, Privity, Probate, Propound, Qualify, Residue, Retainer, Special Administrator.


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Related topics Executor in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Executor is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


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Topic Tree A topic display format, showing the hierarchy
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https://legaldictionary.lawin.org/executor/ The URI of Executor (more about URIs)

English Legal System: Executor

In the context of the English law, A Dictionary of Law provides the following legal concept of Executor :

A person appointed by a will to administer the testator’s estate. A deceased person’s property is vested in his executors, who are empowered to deal with it as directed by the will from the time of the testator’s death. They must, however, usually obtain a grant of *probate from the court in order to prove the will and their right to deal with the estate. Appointment as an executor confers only the power to deal with the deceased’s property in accordance with his will, and not beneficial ownership, although an executor may also be a beneficiary under the will.

Compare administrator.

Executor Definition (in the Accounting Vocabulary)

The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants offers the following definition of Executor in a way that is easy for anybody to understand: Person appointed by a will to manage a DECENDENT’S estate.

United States Tax Concept of Executor

A legal entity, frequently an individual, who is named in the decedents will to carry out the desires of the deceased after his death as designated in the will. Executors must be approved by the court probating the will. An executor pays all indebtedness as claimed by creditors of the estate, with the approval of the court, and then carries out or executes the will according to the terms set forth by the deceased.

Meaning of Executor in the U.S. Legal System

Definition of Executor published by the National Association for Court Management: A personal representative, named in a will, who administers an estate.

Concept of Executor in the context of Real Property

A short definition of Executor: One who is appointed under a will to carry out (execute) the terms of the will.

Concept of Executor in the context of Real Property

A short definition of Executor: One who is appointed under a will to carry out (execute) the terms of the will.



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