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What is the Difference between an Executor and Administrator?

When someone dies, everything in their estate is part of their estate. It's the total of their money, property, and debts. Someone must manage these assets and distribute them to beneficiaries. That person is known as the executor or administrator. 

Learn more about estate executors and administrators below, and New York estate planning attorneys. 

What Is An Executor? 

The executor of an estate manages the assets of someone who has passed away. Whether the person is an executive or administrator of the estate, the roles are essentially the same. 

An executor is a person who was named in a will to administer the person’s estate after they die. An executor's task is to ensure the person’s assets are distributed as outlined in the will. Depending on how big the estate is, the job can be complex. Generally, being an executive or administrator means handling these tasks: 

  • Identifying the person’s assets and keeping them intact
  • Pay taxes and debts that the decedent owed
  • Distribute the assets in the estate according to the will
  • If the estate cannot be distributed according to the will, identify heirs and distribute the assets to them

What Is An Administrator? 

An administrator of the estate serves the same role as an executor. They handle the assets of a loved one who passed away and ensure they go to the proper heirs. The main difference between an executor and an administrator is the court appoints the administrator if the decedent did not leave a will. 

The job of the administrator is the same as the executor. Their role is to collect the person’s assets, pay debts and taxes, and distribute what is left to the beneficiaries in the will. 

The administrator does not have a will instructing them. Instead, their distributions are based on the statutes of New York and the probate court. The administrator’s first job is to locate possible heirs. Some heirs may not have been in contact for years. 

Next, the administrator determines who can receive which parts of the state and distribute them according to state law. Finally, the administrator must defend their decisions if someone challenges what they inherit. Finally, the estate compensates the executor and administrator for their time.

It is essential to have a will and estate plan in place to ensure your assets are distributed per your wishes. Most of us would not want to leave the matter to the state of New York. Working with an estate planning attorney is a critical way to ensure your wishes are honored when you pass away or are incapacitated. 

New York City Estate Planning Attorneys 

Everyone should have a comprehensive estate plan that dictates what will happen to their money and property if they die or are incapacitated. However, many people put off estate planning until it is too late. If that happens, the State of California will decide what happens to your assets, not you. 

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