About Executors and Administrators

What is the difference between an Executor and Administrator?

An executor is someone named in a will who is given the legal responsibility to take care of a deceased person's remaining financial obligations. This means taking care of everything from disposing of property to paying bills and taxes.

An administrator is someone who is usually a beneficiary of the Estate where there is no or no valid will and they have applied to the Court to be appointed administrator.

Are Executors and Administrators really the same?

Whilst Executors and Administrators are known as the Legal Representatives and their duties are identical there are some distinct differences and legal obligations.

For instance, a valid Will gives the Executor the power to handle the affairs of the deceased straight away (before a Grant of Probate has been obtained) but an Administrator on the other hand only derives their power once they have applied to the Probate Court and only after they have obtained a Grant of Letters of Administration.

It is always advisable for an Administrator to carry out searches for any valid Will before applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration as failure to do so could result in them being liable for costs, should a valid will be later found.

What are the duties of an Executor or Administrator?

Under the law they must:

  1. Collect and get in the real and personal estate of the deceased, pay all Estate’s expenses and debts and distribute the Estate in accordance with the Will and Law.
  2. when required to do so by the court, exhibit on oath in the court a full inventory of the estate and when so required render an account of the administration of the estate to the court;
  3. when required to do so by the High Court, deliver up the grant of probate or administration to that court.

What happens if there is more than one Executor?

If more than one person is named as an executor, you must all agree who makes the application for probate. Up to 4 people can apply. It is extremely important that the Executors co-operate with each other. If you cannot get on with your co-executor, then you may need to take independent legal advice and/or make applications to the Court to resolve the dispute.

If a dispute arises between Executors, then the risk of one or all executors becoming personally liable for costs increases.

RMNJ are always glad to discuss any questions you have without obligation and at first instance entirely free of charge.

Back to RMNJ's Guide to Probate