Estate Planning: What’s the difference between an Executor and an Administrator?

A question that our estate planning attorneys get asked a lot is, “what’s the difference between an executor and an administrator?” It’s understandable to see so much confusion over these two terms. After all, both generally perform similar duties.

Below is a brief breakdown of the difference between an executor and an administrator.

Executor vs. Administrator

 The first thing to understand is how important it is to have a last will and testament in place before you die. A will allows you to choose how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death. As we’ve written about before, a will is a crucial piece to estate planning in that it is one way to make the probate process significantly easier on your loved ones. Without it, probate becomes extremely complex and could bog your family down in legal battles for months or years.

A clearly written will specifies who inherits what and also allows you to choose who is in charge of making sure your wishes come to pass. This is called the executor. The executor is the person named in your will who handles all the logistics for the transfer of assets. Their duty is to carry out your instructions and wishes, generally without direct court supervision. You can choose whomever you want to be in that role.

A few of the things they’ll handle include:

  • Identify all the assets and debts and file an inventory with the Court.
  • Burial directives
  • Represent the estate in court
  • Pay bills and pay off remaining debts
  • Maintain property until it can be distributed or sold
  • Other miscellaneous personal wishes

So how about an administrator? What do they do?

Much like an executor, an administrator generally performs all the same tasks in terms of locating, managing, and disbursing the assets of your estate. But this person is named by the court to represent your estate as it goes through probate — either because you did not have a will or your will did not name an executor.

Having an administrator isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their goal is to do whatever is in the best interests of your estate and your family, with direct court supervision. But again, this isn’t a person you have chosen, and the possibility exists that things won’t be carried out exactly how you would have wanted. This is especially true if there is no will.

Call Nelson Law Group today!!

 When it comes to estate planning, you need a trusted estate planning attorney to guide you through each stage and work diligently to achieve a result that will give you peace of mind moving forward. The Nelson Law Group brings nearly two decades of experience in estate planning to each and every case.

Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC a call if you have any further questions regarding this or any other issue. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A. Nelson, click here.


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