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For example I want to write "Professor Neville died, but I am going to ask his wife Virginia Neville, who is acting as is _____, to forward you his confidential letter of reference that he wrote for me before before he died".

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    The official word for a person who administers another's will is "executor". But I would see no reason why it should not be used more loosely, and is probably the word I would use here. Or you could call them "the deceased's representative", or simply "representative". – WS2 Oct 13 '18 at 13:37
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    That's very helpful. Why not write an answer so that I can upvote? don't like the word "executor" especially in this sentence, but I might use "deceased's representative" if no one else answers. That is VERY helpful, thank you. – Nike Dattani Oct 13 '18 at 13:39
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    Executioner and executor as suggested by @WS2 are different words😀 – k1eran Oct 13 '18 at 13:51
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    It's not executioner. You can use executor, but that's a legal term and should apply only to legal matters; undoubtedly Pr. Neville has an executor (anyone who's just died has one), but you can use different version -- there are literary executors for writers and academic executors for academics, to take care of the non-legal aspects of the unfinished work. – John Lawler Oct 13 '18 at 14:33
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    Not sure what sense you seek, here. An executor is chosen to enact someone's specific will. An heir takes over the duties and responsibilities. Successors are the people select to replace those no longer available in a specific role. Which of these are the sort of term you're looking for? – The Nate Oct 13 '18 at 16:28
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The exact title of the person who officially “takes over” for someone after they die depends on how they become responsible for this task:

  • If the deceased has left a will and named a person to act on behalf of the estate, then this person is the executor ;

  • if the deceased has died intestate, and a person has been appointed by court to administer the estate, then this person is the administrator of the estate.

A common term that may be used for both types is legal personal representative - however, there are also other types of personal representatives, e.g. a legal guardian.


Note that this may vary by jurisdiction. These terms are generally used in common law jurisdictions.


With all that said, I don't think you need the official title - at least not in the given example, where in most likelihood you would not even know what that title is, nor would the recipient care. You could simply write:

Professor Neville died, but I am going to ask his widow Virginia Neville to forward you his confidential letter of reference that he wrote for me before he died.

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Conservator is also used in some legal jurisdictions for a person who oversees a person's will both before death, and after.

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