What is the Difference Between an Executor and Trustee?

Almost all of my clients do not know the difference between an Executor and a Trustee. I get it. There are too many words and they are confusing, for example: settlor, grantor, trustee, successor trustee, executor, administrator, power of attorney, agent and fiduciary.

The Trustee is the person that manages the assets of a trust and distributes them to the beneficiaries. When a person creates a revocable trust in California or Texas, they are the trustee during their lifetime until they die or resign as trustee of their trust.

Most of the time if you do have a Trust, you shall have a document titled “Pour-Over Will”. The Pour-Over Will is a back-up plan in the case that you do not properly transfer your assets or the if trust is revoked, then at least you do have a Will.

If you have a Will or a Pour-Over Will then they have Executors of the Will that are listed in the document. Executors are similar to Trustees, in that there job is to manage the assets in the Estate and distribute them to beneficiaries or heirs. If a person has a trust then it is unlikely that the Estate will need an Executor in addition to the Trustee, if everything was properly transferred into the trust. If it was not then a Heggstad Petition could be necessary to transfer the asset or a Petition for Probate.

If you only had a Will and had real property or cash assets then it is likely that your family shall have to file the Will with the Probate Court and file a Petition for Probate with San Diego County Superior Court or Travis County Probate Court. In this case the Executor of your Estate shall administer your Probate.

If you did not have a Trust or a Will then an Administrator would be appointed to your Estate with the same ultimate goal of the Trustee or Executor.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate and business planning, and can help with your estate plan. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

Posted from San Diego, California, United States.