What's the Difference Between a Trustee and Executor?

Monday, April 19, 2021

Over 60% of Americans admit that they don't have a will. But, due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, 12% of people with a will created it within the last year.

Have recent events caused you to start thinking about preparing your affairs? If so, you need to truly understand the whole process and what every term means before you start making things legal.

Keep reading to discover the different roles that both a trustee and executor play.

What Is a Trustee?

Choosing a trustee is just one of the many estate planning steps you'll need to take. But, before you choose just anyone to handle the job, you need to truly understand the role of a trustee.

In simple terms, a trustee is someone who is put in charge of your trust. They become the legal owners of any assets and are then must bequeath them as instructed in the trust. Along with distributing the assets, they are also responsible for any tax filings related to the trust.

Other responsibilities of your trustee can include investing the trust assets if instructed and making decisions on behalf of the trust. They are also the ones in charge of communicating with your beneficiaries.

What Is an Executor?

While an executor is similar to a trustee, they are specifically put in charge of the probate estate. They are the ones who settle the estate.

The responsibilities of an executor include representing the estate for any legal purposes. They will manage your affairs by paying any debts and expenses and having assets appraised if necessary.

Your executor will also be in charge of issuing legal notifications, such as a notice of probate.

Who Should Act as My Trustee vs. Executor?

Now that you know the difference between the two, you have to decide who you want to act as your trustee and executor.

Many people decide to simplify the process and have the same person serve as both. If you want to go this route, make sure this is a trustworthy person who has your best interests at heart. Popular choices are spouses, family members, or longtime friends.

You can also choose to give these roles to separate people, meaning each person will only have one aspect to deal with.

Some people choose to have a third party act as their trustee or executor. You can choose an estate planning attorney, a trust company, or a local bank to take on these roles.

Need Legal Help With Your Estate?

After reading this article, it's easy to see that planning your estate can be an awfully complicated process.

No one likes thinking about death, and the task gets even harder when trying to decide who to trust as your trustee or executor. Making the wrong decision could cause complications for your estate. Or, even worse, making a mistake in estate planning could cause all your work to go unfulfilled.

This is where estate lawyers come in.

Schedule a consultation with MG Law today and rest easy knowing your estate planning is in good hands.

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