Administrators and executors of the estate, assets, or trust of a decedent (that is, a person who has passed away) perform the same duties with respect to the will, trust, or estate that they are charged with caring for. The key difference between the two comes down to how the administrator or executor is appointed. There are benefits to using an executor instead of an administrator, but many situations may require the appointment of an administrator. To better understand the rules, laws, and situations that apply to executors and administrators, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney at the Law Offices of Frank Bruno, Jr.
Key Differences Between Administrators and Executors
Whenever someone passes away, their property, assets, and will must pass through probate. This is the legal process of formally transferring the ownership and/or control of a decedent’s estate to the legal heirs and/or as per the decedent’s wishes as outlined in their will.
An executor is someone nominated in the will of a decedent to manage the decedent’s estate. In the absence of a named executor – or if there is no will – then an administrator is appointed by a court. Once appointed, the roles of the two are very similar, and an estate planning lawyer can help you appoint an executor of your estate so that your heirs and loved ones do not need to rely on the court for appointing an administrator and handling your estate.
For executors, since they are appointed in the will of the deceased person, they distribute the deceased’s estate as per the instructions outlined in their will. An administrator, in contrast, is only appointed when there is no executor specified in the decedent’s will or there is no will in the first place. This means the administrator will have to handle the decedent’s estate in accordance with the laws of succession, which are typically the decedent’s legal relatives and next-of-kin.
The Law Offices of Frank Bruno, Jr. Can Assist with Choosing an Executor
You should have a will in place and choose an executor whom you explicitly know and trust. Without a will, your loved ones may face a lengthy legal process of distributing your assets. With a will in place – and a named and trusted executor who has the power to make decisions regarding your estate in your absence – your loved ones can more quickly and easily handle probate and wrap up the legal and financial processes associated with your estate.
It is also a good idea to appoint multiple executors or alternate executors if a named executor is unavailable or passes away before you do. An experienced estate planning lawyer with the Law Offices of Frank Bruno, Jr. can help with this process so that all tax, financial, and legal implications of your passing are handled as quickly, smoothly, and professionally as possible.
Assigning an Administrator in the Absence of an Executor
It is entirely possible, of course, that someone passes away without first writing their will or selecting an executor for their estate. In such cases, the appointment of an administrator will become necessary, but it can also lead to many complications. The Law Offices of Frank Bruno, Jr. can guide you through whatever legal issues you face under such circumstances. However, it is worth noting that the court will require family tree and kinship details of the decedent to be provided before the disbursement of the decedent’s estate and proceed.
This is known as a kinship affidavit. However, drafting this document and submitting it to the court with the requisite proof and evidence can be difficult, particularly if the decedent did not have close family members such as a spouse or children or other family members. In cases where the nearest next-of-kin are either unknown or are distant relatives such as cousins, then a public administrator may be assigned to manage the decedent’s estate as the estate administrator.
With or without near next-of-kin, a kinship hearing may be required in which the relations between the decedent and the family are established. The help and guidance of an attorney may be useful here, such as the expert estate planning lawyer with the Law Offices of Frank Bruno, Jr. Our attorney will handle the often complex hearing in which all of the decedent’s relatives provide birth, marriage, and death records to prove their relationships with the deceased.
Complications in Estate Planning and Administrator and Executor Duties
There are many hurdles that you and your family may face when estate planning and many complications can arise after someone passes away. The writing of a will and the appointment of an executor is the first hurdle. The second can be the selection of an administrator in the absence of an executor. The third may be establishing the proof of kin and family relationships in a kinship hearing and gathering the evidence required in this hearing from relatives and loved ones who may have lost touch over the years or died in different towns or districts.
One often overlooked issue is that of posting a bond for the decedent’s estate. In some cases, the court may require an estate administrator to post a bond to ensure the safety of a decedent’s estate. While most wills are drawn up with provisions waiving such a requirement, it is something that must be considered.
Apart from writing a will, selecting an executor, and posting a bond, there are many other examples of how poor estate planning can hurt your loved ones. The first, of course, is failing to plan, but the next most important one is not discussing your plan with family and friends so that they are “in the know” before it is too late. Naming only one executor should also be avoided, and keep in mind the costs associated with final arrangements such as burial and funeral costs. Be sure to assign Power of Attorney and Healthcare Representatives as needed, and always include details on digital assets, charities that are important to you, and the tax implications of your will in your estate plan.
Contact the Law Offices of Frank Bruno, Jr. Today for a No-Obligation Case Evaluation
Don’t leave anything to chance, and plan today to avoid issues and complications tomorrow. Our team is here to help you, and we have the knowledge and expertise needed to professionally handle estate planning, executor, administrator, and will and testament issues of every kind. To learn more about how we can assist you, contact the Law Offices of Frank Bruno, Jr. today for a free case evaluation.