The personal representative is a trustee. He holds the property of the deceased in trust, and the rules applicable to trustees generally apply to him. Of course he is a trustee with a special trust to perform, the duties under which are limited by the purpose thereof.
A personal representative gets title to the personal property of deceased.
The executor or administrator gets title to the personal property of the deceased. He does not get title to the real property unless the will gives it to him.
At common law the executor had no power over the real estate whatever and that is also the rule in American jurisdictions, except that if necessary to pay debts by the insufficiency of the personal estate, the executor or administrator may apply to the court for leave to sell such real estate or so much thereof as may be necessary to pay debts.
Any form of personal property, tangible or intangible, which belonged to deceased passes to the personal representative for purposes of administration.
As a general rule whatever things were assets to the decedent at the time of his death are assets to his personal representative, for purposes of payment of debts and other administration. A few particular species of property may be considered.
(1) Corporate stock.
This becomes assets of the estate; but it has been held that interest or dividends declared after the owner's death pass to the specific legatee, of the stocks or bonds, and are not subject to payment of debts (Gordon v. James, 1 L. R. A. N. S. (Miss.) 461). The personal representative is entitled to vote stock upon proof of his letters, although not transferred on the books of the corporation.
(2) Partnership assets.
The assets of a partnership pass to the surviving partner, and not to the personal representative of the deceased partner; subject, however, to the duty of the surviving partner to wind up the affairs of the partnership and account with the executor.
(3) Insurance money.
Passes to the executor if payable to deceased or his estate, executors or administrators but not if payable to other beneficiaries. Therefore in the latter case the executor has no title and creditors cannot reach the insurance. (People v. Petrie, 191 111. 497, 61 N. E. 499.) Insurance money may by statute also be exempt.
(4) Rights to sue.
Rights to sue pass to the executor or administrator, as claims on notes, injury to property, etc. But purely personal claims, as for personal injury, do not pass.