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Are executors and administrators the same?

You wouldn't be alone if you said you dislike having conversations regarding your own mortality. Many California residents no doubt share your views. However, if you are also one of many who understand the importance of executing a solid estate plan, you're probably willing to step outside your comfort zone to have the discussion. Many matters of estate are often complex and can be quite challenging to navigate if you're inexperienced in the process.

For instance, do you know many people use the terms executor and administrator interchangeably, but each refers to tasks carried out in different situations. It may help to do your homework ahead of time before you put anything in writing where your own estate is concerned. If, on the other hand, someone asks you to represent him or her in some way, you will still want to make sure you clearly understand what that person expects you to do.

So, what exactly is the difference between an executor and an administrator?

Both titles refer to personal representatives of an estate. The following information provides further explanation as to the differences between the two terms:

  • If you name someone as an executor, it means you have included that person in the instructions of your final will and testament. You are asking him or her to oversee the administration of your estate at the time of your death.
  • If you fail to leave a final will and testament, however, a judge will appoint someone as administrator to carry out the duties the executor would have if you had provided final instructions in writing.
  • Generally, the duty is not so much what differs between an executor and an administrator as much as the situation that exists at the time of death. If there's a final will, there may be an executor; but if not, the court appoints an administrator.
  • Both titles suggest that those carrying duties therein are acting as personal representatives.

No matter which end of an estate plan you happen to be on (either the estate owner or someone asked to fulfill a certain duty), you can avoid potential problems by seeking clarification of the California estate planning and probate laws before executing a plan or fulfilling someone's request.

Many California residents choose to rely on experienced guidance to avoid making mistakes that may cause stressful situations and create discord between family members of decedents.

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