January 8, 2010

Difference between a Trustee and an Executor

Executor and personal representative are terms synonymous with probate. In short, an executor is the court-appointed representative who gathers the decedent’s (the dead person) possessions, pays off the decedent’s outstanding debts and distributes the remaining possessions to the beneficiaries named in the will or if the decedent had no will, those in close familial relationship to the decedent.

For example if Dave, the decedent, died with a will and named Elroy as executor in the will, Elroy would be entrusted, if he so chose, to gather Dave's possessions, pay off Dave's debt and distribute Dave's possessions to his family.

A trustee is a term synonymous with trusts. In short, a trustee is the legal owner of trust property who manages and distributes trust property for the beneficiary’s enjoyment according to the terms of the trust.

For example, if Samuel created a trust for the benefit of his son Bart, named Thomas as trustee and funded the trust with a beach house in Santa Cruz, Thomas would be obligated, if he so chose, to manage the beach house for Bart's benefit.