A: I love the term "executor police." But, rather than one entity overseeing an estate, picture a different analogy: an estate is more like a boxing match. In one corner is the estate's executor (now called a personal representative, responsible to administer an estate). In the other corner are the heirs of the estate (folks who will benefit from the estate). The referee of this match, is the probate court. The court does not have a stake in the outcome of the match, but sets procedural guidelines for the executor to follow (i.e.: bonding, accounting, etc.). Note that someone's will can alleviate certain guidelines for an executor, giving more or less independence. The lawyers stand in each corner like boxing trainers. The executor's lawyer represents the interest of the executor, while the estate's heirs can have their own lawyers as well.
When the boxing match begins, the executor will begin gathering and selling assets, and identifying debts, if any. The heirs may be aggressive or passive during this process. If the heirs complain about the executor's work, the referee will step in. Most problems occur due to executor delay, incompetence or corruption. The court has power to compel an executor to perform in a certain way, or can even remove an executor, if the job is done too poorly.