The Roles of Administrator and its Differences From Executor

Has an aging parent talked to you about being the executor of their estate when they pass? Have you been assigned to be an administrator? These titles can sound like a big responsibility, especially if you aren’t sure what an administrator or executor is and what their duties are. Read on to learn the roles of an administrator and how it differs from an executor of an estate.

What is the Difference Between Administrator and Executor

What is the Difference Between Administrator and Executor

The key difference between administrators and executors of a will or estate is that the administrator is a person appointed by probate court to manage a deceased person’s estate. This scenario happens when a family member dies without leaving a will or when the person named in the will as executor declines to serve in that capacity.

An executor is the person named in the will of the deceased, naming them as the person responsible for taking care of their estate. Both administrators and executors can be called personal representatives. There are no special requirements or knowledge necessary to fulfill either role, you simply must be willing to serve honestly and impartially.

So while the roles and duties of an administrator and executor are identical , the process by which they are appointed differs.

Order of Operations for an Administrator or Executor of an Estate

When a loved one passes away it can be overwhelming to be put in the role of administrator or executor. While the job is a big responsibility that should not be taken lightly — you are, after all, taking care of the last wishes and duties for a loved one — there are a few steps to follow to simplify the process.

1- Death Certificate

Your first job as executor or administrator will be to obtain copies of the death certificate; you can get those copies from the funeral home. Make sure you get multiple copies because you will use them in the various tasks that come next. Life insurance, banks, and the Social Security Administration will all ask for a copy of the death certificate to move forward with clearing accounts.

2- Funeral Arrangements

If you are the executor and a will has been left then sometimes clear instructions will already be provided for how the deceased would like their funeral to be arranged. If you are an administrator with no will to work from then you will still have the main duty of making funeral arrangements. You will work with the funeral home to ensure the wishes of your loved one are carried out or to the best of your knowledge if there was no will.

3- File the Will with Probate

(Ignore this step if you are an administrator of the estate). If you were named executor in the will then you will need to file a copy of the will with the probate court. In the state of Utah all properties must go through probate unless the deceased had a living trust with a beneficiary instead of a will with an executor. The entire process of closing an estate after filing the will with probate is usually six months though it can take longer.

4- Manage Assets

As the executor or administrator you have control of the assets until the estate is fully settled. If the deceased left a will then the process will be a little simpler with the will outlining which assets to sell or distribute to heirs. You would need to contact anyone who stands to inherit and ensure they receive their property.

If the person who passed was a Utah resident who died without a will then their assets will be distributed to their closest relative under the states “intestate succession” laws. These laws delineate who gets the assets or how much of the assets. If the person dies with no descendants or if all descendants are from they are their surviving spouse then the spouse inherits all the property. If the deceased dies with the descendants who are from a previous marriage or relationship then the surviving current spouse inherits the first $75,000 of the intestate property, plus 1/2 of the remaining with the rest distributed between the descendants.

In managing the assets you can choose to reach out to an estate attorney, investment advisor, insurance agent or accountant to help you access accounts and file paperwork. Managing the assets includes accessing the persons bank and mortgage company, credit card company, social security, Medicare or veterans benefits.

5- Set Up Estate Account

You will need to create a separate bank account to hold all the financial assets such as paychecks and tax refunds. You will use this account to make payments relating the funeral, creditors and IRS.

6- Set Up an Estate Account

The estate account will hold all of the financial assets owed to the deceased, including paychecks, dividend payments and tax refunds. All payments (e.g., for burial expenses, to the IRS, to creditors) will also be paid out of this account.

7- Pay Debts and File Taxes

While the estate is being settled make sure you continue to pay the mortgage, utilities, insurance and any other expenses that come up. You likewise need to pay off debts first thing because the debts must be paid before the assets can be distributed to heirs. Finally, file an income tax return on behalf of the deceased.

8- Close Estate

After all these steps have been followed the personal representative can contact the probate court. The court can then release you from the liability and officially lose the estate.

If you Have to Sell a Home as Executor or Administrator of an Estate

One step that can be arduous is selling the home as part of administrating over the estate. Cleaning out years of belongings, making updates and cleaning along with all the usual steps involved with selling a home (realtors, photos, appointments etc.) can add a lot of work onto your role. If you are looking for a simpler and faster way to sell the home then reach out to Gary Buys Houses. Gary will make an honest, fast, cash offer and close on the house in as little as 7 days.

Selling to Gary will ease your burden as administrator of executor of the will because you won’t have to continue making utilities, mortgage and other home-related payments during the entire probate process. Save money and time by contacting Gary today.


I was a part owner in an electrical contracting firm in the late 1990’s and started to get interested in real estate around 2001. My business partner and I bought our first rental property in 2002. From there we did several real estate transactions until we decided to close the electrical business and part ways. In 2009 I started Gary Buys Houses which is owned by my wife, Eileen, and I. I felt like I could offer one on one personal service to people that wanted to sell their house quickly or not worry about repairs and such. Today, I have built a reputation of being fair and honest with people no matter their situation, so the business continues to help people and be successful. I have been married for 34 years, and have one son, two step sons and 4 grandchildren. I like to travel and spend time in Southern Utah exploring.

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