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The difference between an estate executor and an administrator

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | estate administration |

Making decisions about your estate before you pass away, or how to settle it when someone does, can be a complex process. You may often hear the terms executor or estate administrator. 

It seems like they could be interchangeable, but there are some differences between the two.

It depends on who appoints them

The duties of an estate executor and estate administrator are similar. They have the responsibility of managing the deceased’s estate, including:

  • Identifying and taking control of the deceased person’s assets, such as bank accounts, investments, and real estate.
  • Paying any outstanding debts and taxes the deceased person owes using the estate’s assets.
  • Distributing the remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will or according to state law if there is no will.
  • Keep beneficiaries informed about the estate’s progress and provide regular updates on the distribution of assets.

However, the key difference is that the deceased person selects the executor, while a court of law appoints an estate administrator.

Additionally, in cases with no will, the court will appoint an estate administrator based on Tennessee’s intestacy laws, which determine how the estate should be divided among the deceased person’s heirs. An estate administrator may also be appointed when an executor is named in the will but is unable or unwilling to serve.

Understanding the difference between an executor and an administrator is imperative. Naming an executor may not be enough. You will want to ensure that they can carry out their duties. In that way, you and your loved ones can know that your wishes are carried out after you pass away.