An administrator for an estate is an agent of the probate court who is responsible for handling the finances, assets, liabilities, and estate of the individual who has died during the probate process. The probate process involves validating the will if there is one and distributing the deceased’s assets according to either the will or state law.
The administrator is responsible for organizing all the various parts of the deceased's estate. This includes tasks like settling outstanding debts, expenses, or other financial obligations. Many of these tasks are similar to tasks assigned to an executor.
The difference between an executor and an administrator is less in what they do and more in how they are appointed. An executor is explicitly named by the deceased in their will. An estate administrator is appointed by the probate court if someone dies without a will. Both executors and administrators are under the jurisdiction of the probate court and must report back to them.
Executors generally have more discretion and power when distributing assets since they are appointed by the deceased and are following the instructions and responsibilities described in the will. In contrast, administrators have less discretion in the distribution of assets since they are bound by state law and have no special instruction from the deceased.
Once an individual passes away, the first steps an administrator must take involves the collection of information. The administrator must discover as much asset information as they can. This includes finding out what was owned by the deceased, who holds titles for what assets, and discovering whether there is a will to dictate any future decisions.
The exact role of the Administrator is limited by state law and will vary with the size of the Estate. If an administrator is responsible for an individual with no will in place, their responsibilities may include:
In most cases, the responsibilities and services of the administrator will be determined by state law. In return for their services, administrators will take a percentage out of the estate. This fee will be determined on a state-by-state basis by the probate court.
An administrator is only approved for an estate if the individual passes without a will. In order to prevent your estate from becoming the subject of an administrator, you will need to establish a legally valid will. The best way to create an airtight will and testament is to consult a trusts & estates attorney.
A trusts & estates attorney can help you forge a will that meets your needs. Whether you want to leave your assets to your children, a charity, or even a pet, a trusts & estates attorney can help you efficiently distribute your estate with as little loss to fees and taxes as possible.