Title to a deceased person's property passes on death to the devisees identified in the decedent's last will or, in the absence of a will (“intestacy”), to the decedent's heirs as prescribed in the laws governing intestate succession. The estate is not a legal entity and does not receive the property. ''Estate'' merely describes all of the decedent's property that passes to the identified or intestate heirs. Property of the decedent is ''in'' the estate, for the purpose of administration, until it is delivered to the owners, who are the heirs or the devisees.
If the decedent held sufficient assets at death, the court will appoint a representative for the estate, either the executor as identified in the will, or an administrator if the decedent died without a will (“intestate”). The estate representative will marshal the decedent’s assets, administer the estate, pay the required taxes, account for the administration and eventually distribute the assets of the estate to the heirs or devisees subject to court approval. The attorney for the estate representative will provide advice and counsel while shepherding the estate through the process.