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Executor Vs. Administrator - What Chicago Residents Need to Know

In Illinois, there are, broadly speaking, two different types of individuals who are tasked with guiding an estate through the probate process – executors and administrators.

Before we go any further, it’s important to recognize that these two types of personal representatives will largely take on similar duties during the probate process, including:

  • filing and proving a will of the deceased in court (if such a document exists)
  • gathering, inventorying, managing, and accounting for estate assets
  • communicating with and settling claims from creditors of the estate
  • preparing income and estate tax returns on behalf of the decedent
  • distributing the contents of the estate to any relevant parties

Because of the similar responsibilities that they take on, you may even hear people use the terms “executor” and “administrator” interchangeably when referring to the representative of an estate. With that said, though, there can be a few minor differences between these two roles worth exploring in a little bit more depth.

Executor Vs. Administrator in Illinois

Above all, it’s worth noting that executors and administrators typically receive their responsibilities in different ways.

Generally speaking, an executor is an individual that the decedent names in their will to serve as the representative of their estate. On the other hand, an administrator is typically an interested party appointed by the court in the event that there is no valid will, the will does not name an executor, or the named executor cannot or will not act.

It’s worth noting, too, that in many cases executors are entrusted with greater powers and responsibilities than administrators, due to provisions set down in the will. Often, executors are granted the broadest possible powers by the decedent, and have the guidelines of a will to follow; in contrast, an administrator’s powers are bestowed entirely by the courts, necessarily limiting them to what is set down by the Illinois Probate Act.

The Role of the Surety Bond

Because in many instances executors and administrators are entrusted with their duties in different ways, it follows that they may be bonded differently. In many cases, this comes down to a surety bond.

Illinois probate laws require all personal representatives for an estate to take and file an oath that they will faithfully discharge their duties, as well as a bond requiring them to follow through. This is known as a surety bond – and it can become a costly procurement.

While all administrators are typically required to receive a bond, many executors will not have to do so. In many wills, the testator will set down language or a provision to waive the necessity of a bond requirement for their named executor.

Planning Ahead

If you’re currently in the process of estate planning, or have been tasked with acting as the representative for an estate, it’s important to realize that you’re taking on a great deal of responsibility. The process for administering every estate will be different, and can become confusing – not to mention time-consuming and frustrating.

In many cases, administrators and executors alike may wish to bring on an experienced, professional attorney to assist them during the probate process.

If you’re looking for guidance with any step of the estate planning or administration process, Chicago Probate Law is available to help! Don’t hesitate to drop us a line today with any questions or concerns.

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