When someone dies, an Executor of a Will or an Administrator steps in as a caretaker of their estate, which includes any assets like money and property. The Executor or Administrator takes ownership of the deceased estate and distributing the assets to beneficiaries. You should understand the difference between an Executor of a Will and an Administrator if you are in the process of writing a Will, or if you are executing or administering a deceased person’s estate.

The difference between an Executor of a Will and an Administrator is determined by whether the deceased person left a valid Will or not. A Will usually nominates an Executor, but if the deceased person has not expressly nominated an Executor, an Administrator will be appointed by the Supreme Court.

What is an Executor of a Will?

If you have been named as an Executor of a Will, it means the deceased person has appointed you to carry out their wishes and administer their estate after their death.

What are the duties of an Executor?

An executor is responsible for taking ownership of the deceased person’s estate and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with their Will. As an executor, you will also be responsible for arranging and paying for the funeral and other administrative expenses of the deceased.

The executor’s list of duties may include the following:

  • locating the deceased’s original Will and notifying beneficiaries;
  • arranging the funeral;
  • protecting the assets of the estate by closing the deceased’s bank accounts;
  • determining the deceased’s assets and debts and liabilities;
  • settling debts owing to the deceased;
  • applying for a Grant of Probate;
  • paying the deceased’s debts from the assets of the estate;
  • establishing and managing trusts;
  • arranging the deceased’s tax returns;
  • distributing the deceased’s assets in accordance with their Will.

Other things an executor may need to take care of include:

  • advising Centrelink or other government agencies of the deceased’s death;
  • redirecting mail;
  • arranging for pets to be cared for;
  • cancelling services, mobile phone contracts and other utilities;
  • paying outstanding bills.

You can find out more about the duties of an Executor of a Will here.

What is an Administrator?

Typically, if a person has died without a valid Will, known as dying intestate, an Administrator (usually a Next of Kin or close family member) will be appointed to execute the estate in accordance with laws of intestacy that apply in the relevant state or territory. When someone dies intestate, their money and assets will be bequeathed according to a formula set by law.

What are the duties of an Administrator?

If the deceased person died intestate, someone (usually the Next of Kin) will need to apply to the Supreme Court for a grant of Letters of Administration, which is needed to administer the estate.

The duties of an Administrator essentially work in the same way as the role of an Executor. However, an Administrator has limited powers, which will be restricted by the rules of Probate in the applicable state or territory.

Final thoughts on Executors and Administrators

We hope this article provides a better understanding of the key differences between an Executor of a Will and an Administrator. Whether you are here because you are writing your own Will or you are executing or administering a deceased estate, you should seek professional estate planning advice.

You can read more about making a will in our Estate Planning Guide here.

To learn more, visit the Bare Law website or chat with our estate team for a free consultation, on 1800 959 371.

This article is not legal advice. You should speak with your solicitor or accountant for specific advice on your personal or financial situation.