Question 1: What is the difference between an executor and a personal representative?
Answer: There really isn’t one. Arkansas law states that a person’s property left behind after death must go through an administration before the Probate Division of the Circuit Court in the county in which the person lived. During this administration process, the decedent’s estate is represented by a personal representative, sometimes known as an executor. Though the two words are often used interchangeably, even by attorneys, the appropriate legal terminology for this person, in Arkansas, is the personal representative.
Question 2: Does an executor have to be an attorney?
Answer: No. The personal representative is typically a spouse or family member of the decedent and there is no requirement that he or she be an attorney. However, unless the personal representative is an expert on Probate law, he or she typically hires an attorney. The attorney is there to advise the personal representative so all processes are complete and requirements are adequately met.
Question 3: Can I choose my own executor?
Answer: Yes, but you must do so in your Will. An Arkansas Will does not have to state who the testator chooses as a personal representative in order to be legally valid. However, if you do not select a personal representative in your Will, the court will make the determination for you. You can choose whomever you wish to serve as representative, though all representatives must be at least 21, of sound mind and bondable.