An estate executor and an estate administrator perform the same duties as the personal representative for an estate. The difference is how they are chosen to represent the estate. Our Texas estate planning attorney explains the difference in detail in this article.
An estate executor is named in a Will to serve as the estate’s personal representative. Most people also name a substitute executor in their Will to serve as personal representative if their first choice cannot serve for any reason.
An estate administrator is appointed by the probate court to serve as a personal representative for the estate. An estate administrator must be appointed when the deceased did not have a Will, the Will was invalid, or the executor appointed in the Will cannot serve for any reason.
Having a Will ensures that you choose who handles your estate after your death. Generally, you appoint someone who is familiar with your wishes and who will carry out those wishes. However, if you do not have a Will, the court chooses someone to handle your affairs. As a result, your property is distributed according to intestate law, which might not align with your wishes.
What Does an Estate Executor or Estate Administrator Do?
An estate executor or estate administrator acts in a fiduciary role as a personal representative for the estate. They administer the estate according to probate law for the best interest of the beneficiaries and heirs. The personal representative has many duties to fulfill.
A personal representative’s duties include, but are not limited to:
- Opening an estate with the probate court in the county of the decedent’s residence
- Identify, inventory, and secure the assets of the estate
- Open an estate bank account, when necessary
- Provide notice to creditors to file claims with the estate
- Notify the deceased person’s heirs that an estate has been opened
- Review claims filed by creditors and pay valid claims and debts
- Represent the estate in court for claims or litigation filed by heirs, creditors, or other parties
- File final tax returns for the person and the estate, when necessary
- Liquidate assets, according to the terms of the Will or order of the court
- Distribute assets, according to the Will or intestate succession
- Prepare and file a final accounting to close the estate
This list is not an exhaustive list of the duties and responsibilities of a personal representative. There may be additional tasks the personal representative must perform to comply with the terms of the Will and probate law.
Generally, personal representatives have a duty to keep heirs informed of the progress of the estate. They must keep a detailed accounting of all transactions and estate finances. They are prohibited from acting in any manner that is adverse to the best interest of the estate or the heirs. A personal representative could be personally liable for violating the law or breaching their fiduciary duty.
A personal representative may employ an attorney to assist with the administration of the estate and provide legal advice concerning estate matters.
Contact Our Texas Estate Planning Attorney for a Free Consultation
It is never too soon to create an estate plan. Contact our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney. We can help you identify your goals and develop an estate plan to meet those goals.