What Is the Difference Between an Executor, Administrator, Attorney-in-Fact, and Trustee?

If you and your family are ready to craft an estate planning strategy and have chosen Nelson Law Group, PC to guide you in the right direction, you may encounter a few terms and phrases along the way that you have never heard before. Near the top of that list are four commonly used titles: executor, administrator, attorney-in-fact, and trustee.

These four titles are given to people you have entrusted to carry out your wishes in the event you die or become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions on your own behalf. But what is the difference between these four roles?

What is an executor?

The executor is the person named in your will. 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 an executor can 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

What is an administrator?

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.

An administrator’s goal is to do whatever is in the best interests of your estate and your family. But this is not a person you have chosen, and the possibility exists that things will not be carried out exactly how you would have wanted.

What is an attorney-in-fact?

An attorney-in-fact, also known as an agent, is a person you appoint in a Power of Attorney document to act on your behalf should the time come when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Their responsibilities and restrictions run the gamut and can include various powers depending on what you require of them. They also must keep your goals and wishes in mind at all times. Just a few responsibilities that you can assign to your attorney-in-fact include:

  • Step in and pay your everyday expenses
  • Make healthcare decisions
  • File and pay your taxes
  • Handle bank transactions, including signing checks
  • Operate your small business
  • Hire someone to represent you in Court

The key point to remember with the attorney-in-fact is that their powers are typically limited to a pre-determined list that you create, and they can only act while you are still alive. More specifically, they would only be able to act on your behalf on the day that you are considered legally incapacitated. In the event you pass away, the POA is no longer valid.

What is a trustee?

A trustee is best defined as an individual(s) who have been named to manage a trust’s assets and carry out the purpose of the trust after you die or are unable to physically do so on your own. Naming a trustee is typically one of the first things you will do when establishing a trust. A trustee’s responsibilities include the following:

  • Record expenses and income
  • Distribute funds to beneficiaries
  • Pay bills
  • Manage the trust finances

Contemplating a day when you are no longer around to enjoy your family, pursue your dreams, and relax with the people you love most can be painful. Not only will we help you put a plan in place, but we will counsel you on which documents are best suited for your specific needs and then make sure they are flexible enough to stand the test of time.

When life changes and updates need to be made, we will always have your back.

Call Nelson Law Group today!!

When it comes to protecting your family’s future for years down the road, it is imperative to have an estate planning attorney in your corner at all times. Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC, a call if you have any questions. Our staff is always available.

For more information about Brett A. Nelson, click here.

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Source: Nelson Law Group

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