Confusing estate words: executor, administrator, representative

If you don't really have a lot of experience with the Louisiana estate planning process, and someone you care about designates you as a key role player in his or her estate, you might be honored and nervous at the same time. When it comes to executors, administrators, personal representatives and other common estate terms, if you aren't familiar with the process, you might feel overwhelmed and confused as to what your friend or loved one expects of you when naming you to carry out specific duties.

Many people think the words executor and administrator are interchangeable when it comes to estate plans when, in fact, they each refer to different tasks. If you plan on fulfilling another person's request to carry out some sort of action when the time comes to administer a particular estate, you may be able to save yourself a lot of trouble by finding out as much as you can ahead of time about what you're being asked to do.

Clarification is important:

If someone asks you to hand over a special tool that you have never heard of, it would obviously be rather difficult to satisfy the request. The same goes for matters of estate; seeking clarification may be your key to avoiding complications. The following list contains basic facts regarding the differences between executors, administrators and personal representatives:

  • All executors are personal representatives as are all administrators. This may be why many people get the two confused and misguidedly think they are one in the same.
  • If someone names you as an executor in a last will and testament, he or she wishes you to oversee the administration of his or her estate. A judge officially appoints the person to fulfill this role; however, more times than not, when a decedent has made a specific request in a will, the judge will honor that request.
  • If you're acting as an administrator, it means you are carrying out the probate duties for estate administration on behalf of someone who died without a final will whose estate must enter the probate process.

If an estate owner creates a trust and designates you as trustee, you are responsible for managing the property placed in trust. If you're preparing to execute an estate plan, you'll still want to familiarize yourself with these and other estate planning terms so you can make informed decisions regarding who you might choose to carry out such duties for you when the time comes.

Acting alongside someone with estate planning and probate experience in Louisiana is always a good choice, especially for those who have little to no knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern the process.

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