The executor of a will, also known as a "personal representative," handles the administrative duties of an estate. The personal representative is often a family member or close friend of the deceased. If the decedent passed away without a valid will, the executor handles the distribution of the estate according to that state's intestate succession statute. Prior to dispersing property and paying debts, however, the court must grant authority for the personal representative to act. A petition to appoint a personal representative must be filed with the probate court.
Visit the local court in the county where the decedent was a resident. Ask the clerk to provide you with a form for appointing a personal representative. The local court should have these forms available; you may also be able to find these forms on the court's website.
Provide information about the decedent, the decedent's family and your relationship to the decedent. While the court forms vary by state and county, you typically must provide basic information about the decedent and the decedent's estate. This usually involves providing the name and address of the decedent, the date of death and the names and birth dates of the decedent's surviving heirs.
Disclose whether there has been prior determination made for a personal representative. Estates may only have one personal representative. It is possible that the court appointed a personal representative for the estate in a prior proceeding and that representative has resigned. To ensure the record is complete, petitions to appoint personal representatives must state whether there has been a prior appointment.
Indicate that the decedent died "intestate" (without a will) and that efforts were made to find a "testamentary instrument," but that the search produced no results.
Sign and date the form in the presence of a notary public. Submit the form to the clerk of the court at the probate court.