Is There a Difference Between an Executor and an Administrator of an Estate?
When a person dies and probate is necessary, a court will appoint a personal representative to oversee the winding up of the decedent’s affairs. Executors and administrators are both classified as “personal representatives” of the estate.
The duties of the personal representative are to:
- inventory and collect the decedent’s assets;
- manage the assets during administration;
- receive and pay the claims of creditors and tax collectors; and
- distribute the remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
Whether a person charged with this responsibility is called an executor or administrator depends on whether he or she has been named in a will.
If a person dies leaving a valid will, and the will names a person who is to execute the will and administer the estate, this person is called an executor.
However, when the person in charge of administering the estate is not named in a will, that person is called an administrator. Administrators are appointed by, under the control of, and accountable to a court, generally referred to as a probate court.
This article was originally written on January 8, 2010 and updated on September 25, 2022.