When a person passes away, an executor or administrator is responsible for closing the person’s estate. This can be a complicated job, depending on the size of the estate. You may sometimes hear the terms an executor of a will and an administrator of a will used interchangeably. But actually, there is a distinct difference between the two.
Both the executor and administrator are responsible for closing the estate and distributing the assets, but there is a difference between each one.
Executor of an Estate
An individual named in the will to serve as a representative of the estate.
Administrator of an Estate
When there is no will, the individual can petition the probate court to be an administrator. The probate court will assign an administrator.
As you can see, the difference is who names the responsible individual and when. Dying without a will (dying intestate) means that no one was named an executor and, therefore, will be assigned by the courts. But in general, the responsibilities of the executor and administrator are the same.
The average time it takes to close an estate in Illinois is 6-12 months. This can last longer if the estate is large or complicated or if any beneficiaries or heirs contest the will. The executor or administrator has quite a few responsibilities. Closing an estate involves more than distributing assets; it also includes:
If you are an executor, you have the will to guide you on all assets and how to distribute them. You’ll want to be a good executor and work hard to follow the final wishes of the person who passed away. But if you are an administrator, you will want to use the heirship laws of Illinois when distributing assets to the heirs.
The heirship laws determine how to distribute assets to heirs. In Illinois, the heirship laws state:
But of course, this can be more complicated with more heirs.
Whether you are an executor or administrator of an estate, it is often wise to work with an experienced probate attorney. The attorney can help you with any or all aspects of closing an estate. They can help you file the paperwork with the courts and ensure everything is done correctly. And you will find working with a probate attorney is invaluable if one or more of the heirs or beneficiaries have an issue with the distribution of assets.
A probate attorney can be as involved with closing the estate as you like. They can simply offer legal guidance or do almost everything for you. This is your decision.
If you are an executor of a will or an administrator of the estate, we can help. Consulting an experienced probate attorney can give you peace of mind. Contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.
AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties