Am I the Executor or Administrator?
I get asked by clients, bank employees, and beneficiaries all the time “what’s the difference between an Executor and Administrator?” Some are a little bit more adventurous and ask what an Administrator with the Will Annexed is.” So below is a quick breakdown of the different types of people in charge of an estate.
When a person passes away, all their assets belong to their estate. Regardless of the beneficiaries or what type of assets, for at least a brief period, all the assets belong to the Deceased’s estate. Think of the Estate as a kind of holding platform…all the Deceased’s assets are collected and placed in the Estate, the debts of the Deceased are paid, and if there are any assets remaining then they are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries. If there is a Will, then the assets are distributed according to the terms of the Will; if there is no Will, then the assets are distributed to the Deceased’s heirs at law according to the Texas Estates Code.
The person in charge of collecting all the assets, paying off all the debts with the assets, and then distributing all the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries is known as the Executor or Administrator.
An Executor is the person named in the Will to be in charge of the Estate.
An Administrator is what the person is called if there is no Will, but someone still needs to be in charge of the estate. Someone who is interested in the estate (a spouse, a beneficiary, etc.) will apply to the Probate Court to be the Administrator of the Estate. If the Probate Court judge believes that person is properly suited and trustworthy to be in charge of the estate, the judge will appoint them the Administrator.
In certain cases, the Deceased’s Will only named one person to be the Executor, and didn’t name an alternate Executor. Now, if that one person dies, the Will and Estate have no who can be the Executor. So the court can appoint an Administrator with the Will Annexed. This just means that the Will is still being probated, but because the named Executor in the Will has already died, the Probate Court will have to name an Administrator instead of an Executor.
You can also have temporary Administrators of the Estate. When you have a legitimate need to pay bills or run a small business, and waiting two or three months for the Probate Court to appoint a normal Administrator will have serious consequences to the small business, then a temporary Administrator may be appointed over the estate.
Finally, you can have “Independent” or “Dependent” Executors and Administrators. Independent Executors and Administrators are subject to the Probate Court only until they file the Inventory, List of Claims, and Appraisement. After that, the Probate Court is no longer involved and the Executor/Administrator can act without the approval of the Court (subject to the terms of the Will and fiduciary duties, of course).
A Dependent Executor or Administrator is one that is subject to the Probate Court throughout the entire probate process. This is often a more expensive and time consuming route, but it does provide more protection for the estate and the assets if the Deceased was heavily in debt.
Blaise Regan is a Partner at Regan & Frisbie, PLLC, a law firm focusing on Wills, Trusts, Probate, Contracts, Business Formations (LLC, Corporation, S-Corp Designation), Business Disputes, and Consumer Litigation.
Regan & Frisbie, PLLC is located at 7160 Preston Road, Suite 100, Plano, Texas 75024.
Comments or questions, feel free to email him at Blaise@RFPlawfirm.com or call him at 469.200.4737.
*Nothing in this Article is to be considered as the rendering of legal advice for specific cases, or creating an attorney-client relationship, and readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only, and no warranty or representation is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein.