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What’s the difference between an executor and an administrator?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Executors |

In the complex world of estate administration, two terms that often arise are “executor” and “administrator.” These individuals play crucial roles in managing the affairs of someone who has passed away.

While these two individuals share some similarities, their positions also feature distinct differences that are important to understand before appointing either or assuming either role.

The role of an executor

An executor is a trusted individual appointed by the deceased person in their will to carry out their last wishes. They are entrusted with:

  • Overseeing the division of the deceased person’s wealth
  • Ensuring that debts and taxes are paid
  • Handling various administrative tasks

In some cases, an executor may need to appear in court to validate the will or resolve any family disputes that may arise among beneficiaries.

The role of an administrator

On the other hand, an administrator is appointed by the court when someone passes away without leaving a will or when the deceased’s will does not name an executor. In these situations, the court must step in to help ensure that the deceased person’s affairs are appropriately managed.

Administrators are responsible for identifying the legal heirs of the deceased. According to the law, these individuals are entitled to inherit the deceased’s assets. Administrators must also create an inventory of the deceased person’s assets and have them appraised to determine their value.

And similar to executors, administrators must settle any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the estate. This involves notifying creditors and paying off financial obligations. Once debts are settled, the administrator can distribute the remaining wealth to the legal heirs according to state laws.

By having a competent executor or administrator in place, you can ensure that your own wishes – or the wishes of a deceased loved one – are carried out efficiently, with care and in accordance with state laws.