What’s the Difference Between an Executor, Administrator, and Trustee?
Estate planning terminology comes second nature to me. And, honestly, it should — this is what I do for a living, after all. But that doesn’t mean my clients understand all the lingo I take for granted. Such is the case with terms like Executor, Administrator, and trustee. Even if you’ve heard of them, it can be overwhelming trying to remember the difference.
Executors, Administrators, and trustees each play a critical role in ensuring your wishes are carried out. And even though some of their duties overlap, there is a difference between these three roles.
What is an Executor?
An Executor is someone you name in your Will to oversee and follow through on every last detail of your Will. You can choose whomever you want to be in that role, typically a spouse, adult child, or close family member. Either way, an Executor has a fiduciary responsibility to the estate and its beneficiaries. Just a few of their responsibilities include:
• Consult a probate attorney to determine if probate is needed
• Identify and collect all assets
• Locate and notify all beneficiaries
• Distribute assets in accordance with the Will
• Maintain property until it can be distributed or sold
• Represent the estate in court
• Ensure other personal wishes are carried out
What is an Administrator?
An Administrator is very similar to an Executor in terms of locating, managing, and disbursing estate assets. However, an Administrator is the name given to someone who is court-appointed — either because you died without a Will, your most recent Will didn’t officially name an Executor, or if the Will named an Executor that person is unable or unwilling to serve. Unlike an Executor who is named in a Will and can be appointed without beneficiary involvement, being appointed as the Administrator might require more cooperation and agreement from all the beneficiaries.
What is a Trustee?
A Trustee is the person you place in charge of being the legal custodian for the assets held in a Trust. This is the big difference here, as we are no longer talking about Wills. You can be the Trustee of your own Trust, and you can even name someone to be a co-trustee. But you’ll want to make sure you have a successor Trustee in place that you can rely on to handle everything when you’re gone. Duties are also similar and include:
• Manage and administer the finances of a Trust
• Recording expenses and income
• Distributing funds to beneficiaries
• Pay any bills
• Filing taxes and tax reports on any income the Trust makes
• Keeping records of other transactions
There is so much more to this conversation than simply the information above. If you have questions about your estate plan, or you want guidance on how to choose the right Executor or trustee, give us a call.
Call Caitlyn Ashley Law today!!
Having a plan for the future is the most important gift you can give yourself and your family. Granted, none of us Will ever know for sure what is around every corner in life. And just thinking about the what-ifs — what if I were to die or become incapacitated tomorrow; what if my child with special needs has no one to care for her; what if all my “stuff” isn’t passed onto the right people — can be overwhelming. But having a plan that accounts for your family’s unique circumstances, puts your affairs in order, has concrete solutions to your concerns, lays out your wishes and goals, and protects your family’s future provides peace of mind for the road ahead.
Caitlyn Ashley Law in Denton, Texas, Will counsel you on which documents are best suited for your needs and ensure they are flexible enough to meet your changing needs for years to come.