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What are the Differences between an Executor and Administrator?

Brooklyn Heights estates attorney helps New Yorkers settle estates, with or without a will

Both an executor and an administrator work within the laws of New York State to settle a decedent’s estate. They ensure the debts are paid, amounts owed are collected, and the assets are distributed to the designated beneficiaries. The difference is that the executor tries to implement the decedent’s goals and objectives as stated in a last will and testament; however, the administrator must follow New York’s laws of intestacy. At The Cormac McEnery Law Firm, our attorneys advise executors and estate administrators, and even fulfill those roles when requested. Drawing on more than 35 years of estate law experience, we work meticulously to resolve estate matters accurately and in a timely fashion.

How does a person become an executor or administrator?

The testator usually names an executor in the will, but a Surrogate’s Court must still approve the selection. When a decedent dies intestate, eligible persons wishing to serve as administrators may apply for a letter of administration, granting authority over the decedent’s estate. The Surrogate’s Court must grant letters of administration in order of preference as follows:

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings

When there are multiple, eligible persons who are equally entitled to administer and have a desire to serve, the Surrogate’s Court may grant letters of administration to more than one person.

What to do if you have been appointed an executor or administrator

The duties of an executor and administrator are similar. Initial matters include the following:

  • Take an inventory of the decedent’s assets and debts.
  • Protect the assets by contacting financial institutions to notify them of the death and your appointment.
  • Have real estate and personal property appraised.
  • Open an estate checking account and keep a detailed record of all transactions.
  • Determine the validity of creditors’ claims on the estate.
  • Pay the estate debts.
  • Have the decedent’s final income tax return and estate income tax returns prepared and filed, if needed.
  • Consult a tax specialist and make sure to file the proper returns.
  • Distribute the balance of estate assets to the beneficiaries pursuant to the will or New York’s intestacy laws.

Contact an experienced estate attorney serving Brooklyn Heights, Manhattan, City Island and Westchester

The Cormac McEnery Law Firm provides reliable advice to executors and administrators throughout the estate administration process. To schedule a free consultation, call 888.368.4329 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Brooklyn Heights and Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties.