The Differences Between an Executor vs an Administrator in a Will
The terms executor of a will or estate and administrator of a will or estate are often used interchangeably. In Alberta, when a person writes a will, they are required to name a personal representative to be in charge of paying the deceased's taxes and debts and the distribution of the estate. This named personal representative is also known as an executor because historically (and still today, in other jurisdictions) that was the term used in wills and estate legislation and it continues to be the term that most people know.
An administrator, on the other hand, is a person appointed by the court to administer the estate of the deceased under the Estate Administration Act. This happens when:
- the executor or personal representative named in a will is unable or unwilling to act
- the deceased failed to name an executor in the will
- the deceased failed to deal with their entire estate in the will, or
- the deceased died without a will (intestate).
Our Edmonton area wills and estates lawyers can clear up any confusion regarding the differences between an executor vs an administrator in a will and what those differences might mean for your situation.
Who Will The Court Name As Administrator?
In a situation where the deceased left a will, but the will either failed to name an executor or failed to deal with the entire estate, the estate will need to apply for a grant of administration with will annexed. The grant is a court order that appoints an administrator to manage and distribute the estate according to the will.
The court is required to name the person with the highest priority on the list of eligible candidates set out in the Estate Administration Act. For example, the top three options are:
- the personal representative named in the will (if there is one, and if they are willing to act)
- the personal representative named by the person authorized in the will to name a personal representative (if there is one), or
- a residual beneficiary.
In a situation where the deceased left no will, the estate must apply for a grant of administration, which is a court order that appoints an administrator to distribute the estate according to the rules of intestacy set out in the Wills and Succession Act.
In this case, the top three options for administrator are based on the most likely beneficiaries set out in the Wills and Succession Act:
- the surviving spouse or common law partner of the deceased
- a child of the deceased, or
- a grandchild of the deceased.
Typically, the person with the highest priority on the list prepares the application and is appointed the administrator, but they can also appoint someone else if they do not want to act as the administrator.
What Are The Duties Of An Executor Vs An Administrator?
Once an executor agrees to act or an administrator is named by the court, their duties are similar. They both owe a fiduciary duty to the estate and its beneficiaries. They both are responsible for managing and distributing the estate. However, there are technical differences between an executor vs an administrator in a will that may or may not be relevant in your circumstances. We recommend you speak with a lawyer to get more sound legal advice on this matter as every situation is different.
Book A Consultation with Verhaeghe Law Office Today
If you or a loved one need legal assistance from an estate administration lawyer book a consultation with us. Contact our Edmonton estate administration lawyers today for more information. A member of our legal team will be pleased to speak with you.
Disclaimer: Please note the content prescribed here is intended to act as a general overview on a legal topic and does not constitute as legal advice. For specific legal advice please consult with an estate administration lawyer on this subject matter.