Minnesota law says the first choice for personal representative or estate executor is anyone named in the decedent's will. The person selected must formally accept the appointment. To do this, she files an "acceptance of appointment" form with the probate court. The form gives her name and the deceased's name and says she accepts the position. It has to be signed, dated and notarized.
The personal representative manages the estate until she can pass the assets to heirs. In Minnesota, this usually takes 18 months, though the representative can ask for more time. She has to determine whether the decedent left a will and prepare a list of heirs. She collects, inventories and appraises the value of the assets and uses them to pay off the estate's taxes and debts. When the red ink is wiped away, she distributes the remaining assets.
Some states are specific about the amount executors can receive for their hard work. Minnesota state law just says that personal representatives are entitled to reasonable compensation. A probate court determines reasonableness based on the time involved in settling the estate and the estate's complexity. A representative can accept a lower rate or forgo any compensation.