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Administrator Vs. Executor: What’s the Difference?

Updated: May 28

Estate Planning Lawyers Houston
Difference between Administrator and Executor Powers

When it comes to estate planning, understanding the difference between an administrator vs executor can be confusing.


Do you know what each one does? Are there differences in their roles and responsibilities?


This article will help demystify the differences between an administrator and an executor so that you can make informed decisions when putting together your own estate plan. We will also explore some of the duties and limitations of these roles and how you can get help planning for your estate.


At Your Legacy Legal Care™, we make estate planning efficient, effective, and easy so you can protect your loved ones and your own interests.

Read on to learn more.


What Is an Administrator?


An administrator—is an individual appointed by the court in cases where someone dies without leaving behind a will or if they did not name anyone as their designated executor. The administrator is responsible for settling the decedent’s estate, which may involve paying debts and taxes, distributing assets to beneficiaries, and handling legal proceedings. It is important to note that the person appointed by the court as an administrator is the one responsible for paying the court fees.


What Is an Executor?


An executor is an individual named in a person’s will to manage their estate after they pass away. The executor is responsible for carrying out the terms of the will, including paying debts and taxes, gathering and managing the deceased person’s assets, and distributing property to the beneficiaries named in the will.


The executor has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and follow the instructions laid out in the will. Like an administrator, an executor is also responsible for paying the court fees incurred during a probate proceeding.


What Is the Difference Between an Administrator vs Executor?


The terms “administrator and “executor” are often used interchangeably, but there’s a subtle difference.


An administrator can refer to anyone appointed to manage the affairs of a deceased person.


An executor is a specific type of administrator named in a person’s will to manage their estate after they pass away. The executor is responsible for carrying out the terms of the will. While an executor is always an administrator, not all administrators are executors. The specific duties depend on the estate’s circumstances and jurisdictional laws.


What Are the Duties of an Administrator and Executor?


Coincidentally, an administrator and an executor have the same job to do. They are both responsible for overseeing the administration of a deceased person’s estate.


Some common duties include:

  1. Identifying and safeguarding the assets of the estate

  2. Notifying creditors, beneficiaries, and other interested parties of the death

  3. Paying debts and expenses of the estate, including taxes

  4. Managing and investing estate assets prudently

  5. Filing court and tax forms as required by law

  6. Distributing assets to beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or state law

  7. Defending the estate against any legal claims or challenges

  8. Keeping accurate records of all estate transactions and expenses

  9. Providing periodic accountings to the court and beneficiaries

  10. Acting in good faith and in the best interests of the estate and beneficiaries


Coincidentally, an administrator and an executor have the same job to do. They are both responsible for overseeing the administration of a deceased person’s estate.


Do Administrators and Executors Receive Compensation?


Administrators and executors may be entitled to compensation for their services. However, this can vary depending on the laws of the jurisdiction and the specific terms of the will, if any.


Here’s everything you need to know:

  1. Administrators and executors may receive reasonable fees for their services in accordance with applicable state law

  2. These fees must typically be approved by court order or agreement between all interested parties if not mentioned in the deceased’s will.

  3. The fee amount varies widely depending on the type of estate and the complexity of tasks involved

  4. In some cases, these fees are paid out of the estate’s assets before distribution to beneficiaries


It is important to note that administrators and executors have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. They should not prioritize their own financial interests over those of the estate. Any compensation they receive should be reasonable and commensurate with the services provided.


What Are the Limitations on Administrator and Executor Powers?


While administrators and executors have important responsibilities in managing and distributing a deceased person’s estate, their powers are not unlimited.


Several limitations govern their actions, including:

  1. The terms of the will — The executor must follow the instructions laid out in the will and may not act in a manner that goes against the wishes of the deceased person.

  2. State law — The actions of the administrator or executor must comply with state law. This may include requirements for how assets are distributed, how debts are paid, and what actions are required to administer the estate.

  3. Fiduciary duty — Administrators and executors have a fiduciary duty to act in the estate’s and its beneficiaries’ best interests.

  4. Court oversight — In some cases, the probate court may require the administrator or executor to obtain court approval before taking certain actions, such as selling property or making large distributions to beneficiaries.

  5. Limitations imposed by the will — The will may contain specific limitations on the powers of the executor, such as prohibiting the sale of certain assets or requiring the approval of certain beneficiaries before taking certain actions.


It is important for administrators and executors to be aware of these limitations and to act within the scope of their authority. If they act outside of their powers or violate their fiduciary duty, they may be held liable for any damages caused.


Leave Your Estate in Good Hands — Call Your Legacy Legal Care™ Today.


If you are in the process of estate planning, it’s important to understand the differences between an administrator and an executor. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct legal meanings and can impact how your estate is administered after you pass away.


To ensure your estate is managed properly and according to your wishes, you must work with an experienced estate planning attorney at Your Legacy Legal Care™. A lawyer can help you understand the legal implications of your choices, draft a comprehensive estate plan, and assist your loved ones in navigating the complexities of probate and estate administration.


Don’t leave your legacy to chance. Contact us today to schedule a strategy session and learn how we can help you protect your assets and ensure your wishes are fulfilled after you’re gone.

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