Executors & Administrators


Partner Content Oren Ross & Associates LLC

Article by Oren Ross

Photography by Oren Ross

When you are drafting your estate planning documents, or when you are beginning the process of probating a loved one’s estate, you might hear several different terms being used to refer to the person who will be in charge of managing the decedent’s estate. These terms are not really interchangeable, and it is important to learn the distinction between them.

What Is the Role of an Executor?

An executor is a person who is in charge of a deceased person’s estate. In order to be considered an executor, this person must have been named on a will left by the decedent. The will must be deemed valid by a probate court, and the executor will be confirmed by the court. Once appointed, the executor will be responsible for managing the estate through the probate process. This includes gathering and inventorying all the estate’s assets (including debts), identifying and contacting beneficiaries named on the will, making sure any pending debts and taxes are paid, and distributing the assets to heirs before closing the estate.

Being an executor for a loved one’s estate is an important job that requires a decent amount of work and time. If you have been appointed as an executor, it is recommended you seek the help of an attorney to make sure you are taking the right steps and avoiding costly mistakes. If you are preparing your will, make sure to communicate with the person you intend to appoint as your executor to make sure he or she is aware and willing to take up the job.

What Is the Role of an Administrator?

An administrator has a similar job as an executor, but with one key difference: when the decedent did not leave a will or the will was declared invalid for any reason, the court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate and take it through the probate process. An administrator will then be responsible for every step required to distribute assets and close the estate, much like an executor.

Another instance in which an administrator may be appointed is when the executor named on the will is unwilling or unable to accept the job. In this case, the court will appoint an administrator for the estate. Both administrators and executors have legal obligations to perform their duty with honesty and impartiality.

What Does a Personal Representative Do?

A personal representative is an umbrella term to refer to someone who is either an executor or an administrator. More recently, the term personal representative is being used more often to refer to the person in charge of managing the estate, regardless of how he or she was appointed. Personal representatives may be entitled to payment in some cases, since the job of settling an estate is not an easy task. Some wills may include a flat fee destined for the personal representative. When that is not the case, you may be able to ask the court for compensation within reason, and the court may approve or deny your request.

If you need more information about being a personal representative for a loved one’s estate, or if you are unsure about how to choose a personal representative for your estate when crafting your will, contact Oren Ross & Associates. We are ready to get your questions answered. Call us at (404) 436-1752 or find us online at OrenRossLaw.com.

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