It will help to use the correct terms when Googling.
When there's no will, the person in charge of distributions is not called an executor. They're called an administrator. Even if the lawyer's wording is executor, it's technically incorrect and is probably an instance of someone just not updating the form correctly.
I have no idea what you mean by "open up the estate". Create a bank account in the estate's name? Go through probate? Something else?
Houses are worth big bucks and, even if they're falling apart, the land they sit on is also valuable. For many people, it's the most valuable asset they own/can leave to someone else.
For that reason alone, get yourself a lawyer who has experience with trusts and estates and is admitted to practice in your jurisdiction. Your questions have some complexity to them and there's a lot of value at stake.
This is not the time to go cheap on this stuff.