Executor vs Administrator Of A Will: What’s The Difference?

Preparing a Will and getting ones affairs in order is an extremely important thing to do. However, creating a Will or properly dealing with the Will of a loved one can be overwhelming. So, investing time to learn what’s needed to deal with and create a will is important and strongly recommended. This includes knowing the difference between an executor and an administrator.

What is an Executor?

An executor plays an important role in someones Will. This is the person nominated by the deceased to carry out their wishes, as stated in the Will. Essentially, the executor is responsible for managing and protecting that individuals estate, assets, and wishes. They have to comply with the terms of the Will they are executing and the rules and laws that govern the administration of deceased estates in the state.

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What is an Administrator?

An administrator will be appointed by the Court where an individual dies intestate – without a Will – or an executor has not expressly been appointed by the deceased individual. The key difference between an executor and an administrator is the element of choice and appointment by the deceased individual. Particularly, the deceased choses an executor whereas the Court appoints an administrator.

In NSW, the Supreme Court of NSW will appoint a suitable administrator to administer the deceased individuals estate. The deceased individuals estate will be administered according to a specific legal formula where there is no Will. Undoubtedly, this can be time consuming and may not necessarily follow what would have been preferred by the deceased individual. More so, determining suitability may involve establishing next of kin by way of certificate evidence. This may further require the administrator to obtain an administration bond from a third party in the event an estate is not properly administered. It’s not an easy task and may not always fall in the hands of a capable person.

The duties of an Executor

Preforming the duties of an executor requires a great deal of responsibility. Expectations and responsibilities involved sometimes aren’t clear to an appointed executor. As a result, it can be a demanding and complex role during a sensitive time. It is useful to have an understanding of the law, tax and accounting requirements to execute a will validly and without unnecessary complexities.

Duties may involve:

  • locating the Will
  • applying for a grant of probate to the Supreme Court (probate is a legal document that confirms and authorises the executor to administer the deceased individuals estate)
  • paying of any debts
  • determining the beneficiaries
  • collecting assets and distributing them to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will
  • establishing and managing long term trusts
  • management of accounts and lodging tax returns

Being an executor of someones estate, even simple estates, is an important and significant task. It can be extremely tough for someone who is grieving. Accordingly, it is possible to renounce your executorship if you think you are unable to perform the duties. You can renounce probate and transfer the role of executor to an independent professional executor, like NSW Trustee & Guardian, when there is no alternative executor nominated. However, this is quite a process. You should seek the advice of an estate planning lawyer before making any big decisions.

The duties of an Administrator

The duties of an administrator will be similar. However, one main difference is the need to apply to the Court for a grant of Letters of Administration. A grant of Letters of Administration is necessary for proper administration of a deceased estate. As a result, the administrator can then take the grant to persons in possession of the assets of the estate or to those who are in debt to the estate. The grant will require these people to transfer the assets or monies to the administrator. But not every case will require an administrator to seek this grant. You can read more about it here.

Final Thoughts

Following this practical guide, you can see the key differences between an executor and an administrator. Whether you are preparing your own Will or you have been nominated as an executor of a Will, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice to make sure you carry out the respective task precisely.

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