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What’s The Difference Between An Executor, Administrator Ad Litem, And Trustee?


If you are involved in estate litigation, it is important to understand who is responsible for what when administering a deceased loved one’s estate and trusts. Depending on the specific case, different titles such as executor, administrator, and trustee may be used. Below, we’ll provide an overview of these roles and explain what makes them distinct.

When an executor, administrator, or trustee fails to perform their duties as required by law, interested parties – including beneficiaries – can take legal action. If you believe that a person in any of these three roles breached their duties, contact our Pompano Beach estate and trust litigation lawyer at Mark R. Manceri, P.A., for assistance.

Who Is an Executor of an Estate?

An executor, also known as a personal representative in Florida, is someone appointed by the court or named in a will to manage the assets of a deceased person. The executor has a fiduciary duty to handle all financial matters related to the estate in an ethical manner. This includes collecting any debts due to the estate, paying taxes owed by it, and distributing assets according to the directions in the will or intestacy laws if there is no will. A personal representative’s general duties are described in Florida Statutes § 733.602.

Who Is an Estate Administrator Ad Litem?

An estate administrator is similar to an executor but with two key differences. First, they do not need to be named in a will—the court can appoint them instead. This means that if there is no will or if no executors were named in it, then the court may appoint someone else as administrator. Second, administrators tend to focus more on settling disputes that arise between creditors and beneficiaries than on managing assets.

Who Is a Trustee?

A trustee is someone who holds legal title to the property for another person’s benefit—in this case, for the benefit of those who have been named as beneficiaries under a trust agreement or will. A trustee has wide-ranging powers over trust property including investing it and making distributions from it according to instructions provided by the trustor (the creator of the trust) or by law. Trustees also have a fiduciary duty towards their beneficiaries and must act honestly with respect to them at all times.

What’s the Difference Between an Executor, Administrator Ad Litem, and Trustee?

The main difference between these three roles lies in their level of responsibility over assets belonging to someone else’s estate—an executor has full control over assets while administrators are typically focused on settling disputes between creditors and beneficiaries.

Trustees, on the other hand, only manage assets held under a trust agreement or will but do not have full control over them as an executor does. In addition, administrators can be appointed by courts whereas both trustees and executors must either be named in a will or appointed through other legal means such as a power of attorney documents or court orders.

Want to Sue an Executor, Administrator Ad Litem, or Trustee? Contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A.

Understanding these distinctions can help ensure that your estate litigation goes smoothly when dealing with any of these roles. If you believe that someone – the executor, administrator ad litem, or trustee – has failed to perform their duties as required by law, you may be able to sue them and ask the court for a replacement.

However, suing an executor, administrator, or trustee can be a complex matter, which is why you might want to seek legal help. Our lawyer at Mark R. Manceri, P.A., assists clients with all types of legal matters related to estate and trust litigation in Florida. Call 954-491-7099 to set up a case review.

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