Executor vs. Administrator – What’s the difference?

Written by

Krista Evanisky, founder of Clarity Law

The technical language that is often used in the estate administration context can be tricky to understand.

The person handling an estate will either be called an executor or an administrator depending on where they get their authority to act.

What is an Executor?

An executor is the term for the individual (or trust company) appointed in a Will to administer and distribute the property of the deceased person.

This person is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased according to the terms of his or her Will.

This authority arises immediately following the death of a person who has a Will.

Depending on the assets that are in the estate, it may be necessary for the executor to have their appointment confirmed by the court.

What is an Administrator?

An administrator is appointed by the court to deal with an estate in situations where:

a)  The Will fails to appoint an executor;

b)  The executor(s) named have renounced or are unable to act; or

c)   There is no Will.

When these situations arise, there is no one who has legal authority to act on behalf of the estate or deal with the deceased’s assets.

In Saskatchewan, The Administration of Estates Act sets out the order in which people have the right to apply to be an administrator of an estate.

If there is no Will for the administrator to follow, they will be required to distribute the estate assets in accordance with the scheme set out in the applicable provincial legislation.

What are the similarities between Executors and Administrators?

While there are often many details to take care of, in general, both an executor and an administrator will be required to:

  • Pay proper debts and expenses;
  • Distribute estate property as required (either by the terms of the Will or legislation); and
  • Provide a full accounting to beneficiaries.
  • Executor is responsible for providing beneficiaries with information about the debts, expenses, income, and assets that were part of the estate.

Are you an Executor or Administrator?

Let Cadence help you with your clients.