Trust and Estate Administration: Understanding the Role of the Executor & Trustee

The trustee and the executor play an integral role in the probate proceedings. The person who wants his estate managed or is creating his will is the testator. Each testator needs an executor in their will. The legal duty of an executor is to manage the deceased’s estate and make sure that each beneficiary gets the assets of the testator’s estate as dictated by the will. On the other hand, a Trustee is a person designated to run a trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries

Let’s explore each of their roles in detail:


The estate of a deceased individual includes all of their personal and tangible property. The estate executor is responsible for administering this estate with the final goal of distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.

Estate Executors are responsible for the following legal actions:

  •       Filing the paperwork for the person with the will
  •       Overlooking the probate proceedings
  •       Handling the assets of the departed individual
  •       Sending out notices to beneficiaries of the estate
  •       Providing notices to creditors
  •       Settling withstanding estate bills
  •       Paying estate creditors
  •       Defend the will against potential lawsuits and validity claims

A chosen executor has the right to decline their role. Suppose a person has appointed an individual to become their estate executor. In that case, it does not mean that they are bound to serve the purpose. If an executor decides to refuse, the probate court can appoint another. In most cases, people agree to serve as executors to honor a deceased loved one’s hopes and wishes.


While an executor administers a deceased person’s estate and distributes their assets, a trustee, on the other hand, is responsible for governing a trust. A trust is a formal arrangement set up for the beneficiaries’ benefit based on legal terms. It is considered an honorable act for a loved one to be appointed as a testator’s trustee.

The purpose of a trust is to safeguard the assets left by the testator’s will. The United States law recognizes trusts to be charitable or non-charitable. The testator has the choice to highlight whether the beneficiary receives the assets upon their death, over time, or when the beneficiary reaches a certain age.

The legal duties of a Trustee include the following:

  •       Protecting assets of the trust
  •       Locating or procuring assets of the trust
  •       Keeping accounts
  •       Filing the assets and liabilities of the trust
  •       Filing taxes for the trust
  •       Settling creditors of the trust
  •       Distributing assets to the beneficiaries as dictated by the testator’s will

Providing trust and estate administration services can be a challenging task. If you have been appointed as an estate executor or a trustee for a loved one: you must keep the wishes of the deceased in mind and the best interest of the beneficiaries at heart.