Executor vs. Administrator

What is the Difference Between an Executor vs. Administrator?

In terms of their duties, there is no difference between an Executor vs. Administrator. The difference is the way in which they have been appointed. An Executor is nominated within the Will of a deceased person. If there is no Will, an Administrator is appointed by a Court to manage or administer a decedent’s estate. A New York City estate planning lawyer can help explain their different roles.

The Court procedure for the appointment of an Executor involves the probate of a Will. The Court procedure for the appointment of an Administrator is different since there is no Will involved. However, whether an Administrator or Executor is appointed, they each have numerous powers and obligations regarding the handling of estate affairs. In the case of an Executor, the estate is distributed in accordance with the Will. An Administrator distributes an estate according to the laws of intestate succession-i.e. to the decedent’s statutory next-of-kin. In terms of your wishes, it's best to have a Will and a named Executor that you know and trust. If you really want to avoid having the Court appoint an Administrator, then it's a good idea to appoint more than one Executor or an alternate Executor.

The appointment of an Administrator in an intestate estate in New York City can result in many complications, through which an attorney can guide you.  The Surrogate's Court filing procedures require that the Court be provided with kinship information describing in detail the family tree of the decedent.  It may be difficult to complete a Kinship Affidavit especially where the decedent does not have close family members such as a spouse or children. When the next of kin of a decedent are unknown or very distant in relation such as cousins, the intestate administration may be given to the Public Administrator.  As a government official in each county, the Public Administrator will be appointed by the Court as the estate Administrator.  

The family members may then be required to prove their relationship to the decedent through a Kinship Hearing, in which the assistance of a lawyer may be useful. These hearings can be very complex and the relatives are required to show both the maternal and paternal ancestors by proof in the form of certified documents such as birth, marriage and death records. Such proof can be difficult to obtain particularly where family members have lost touch over the years and may have lived and died in different states or counties.

Another complication in Administration cases is that the  Court may require an Administrator to post a surety bond to secure the safety of estate assets.  Most Wills contain a provision waiving the requirement of a bond. 

As a New York City lawyer, I have represented numerous clients in Kinship matters and have many years of experience working with Executors and Administrators as they go through the estate settlement process. I enjoy being successful on behalf of a client. I work hard to help my clients resolve their legal issues successfully, especially if things looked bad at the outset. I also enjoy working through the nuances of a case detail, uncovering something that did not initially seem obvious and coming to grips with things that can’t be controlled so that I can hear a happy client say, “Thank you so much Jules.”

Please complete the form and a representative of the firm will contact you to discuss your concerns in more detail. You can also contact me by phone at (212) 355-2575 or e-mail for an appointment with a New York City attorney to understand more about the Executor vs. Administrator difference.