What is the Difference Between an Executor and a Trustee?

A common question that people have is about the difference between an Executor and a Trustee. Although these two terms are similar, they are quite different. An Executor, Executrix, Personal Administrator or Personal Representative is a term which applies to the person who oversees settling a person’s estate after death.

An Executor can be named in a Last Will and Testament or be nominated and appointed by the Probate Court if the person dies without a Last Will and Testament. The Executor is responsible for collecting assets, paying legally enforceable debts, paying and filing tax returns, hiring attorneys and CPAs, and distributing the remaining property to the heirs and beneficiaries.

What is a Trustee?

A Trustee, on the other hand, serves in a similar capacity. A Trustee collects all the trust property, pays legally enforceable debts, pays and files tax returns on behalf of the person who died, hires attorneys and CPAs, and distributes the property to the heirs and beneficiaries according to the Trust Agreement. The main difference between a Trustee and an Executor is that an Executor’s powers are determined by the Ohio Probate Code and the Probate Court. Further, the Executor’s role concludes at the conclusion of the Probate Court case.

A Trustee’s role is determined by the Trust Agreement and continues according to the terms of the Trust Agreement. The Trust Agreement may conclude at death, or the Trust Agreement may continue during the lives of the beneficiaries. In addition, Probate Court is not required. This can result in less costs and more privacy in the estate administration process.

Although the roles of an Executor and a Trustee may overlap, their roles are different. In addition, there are pros and cons to proceeding with a Last Will and Testament or a Trust.

For more information

If you have questions about Executors, Trustees, Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning, please contact Aronoff, Rosen & Hunt at (513) 241-0400. You can also use our contact form to schedule a time to discuss your estate and trust questions. Our Ohio Estate Planning and Probate attorneys look forward to speaking with you!