Crucial Differences Between Executor of a Will & Trustee

close-up of last will and testament documentWhen it comes to estate planning, there are two important roles that people often confuse: executor and trustee. Many individuals use these terms interchangeably, but they serve distinct purposes in managing and distributing assets after someone’s passing. Understanding the fundamental differences between these roles is essential for ensuring the smooth execution of an individual’s final wishes. 

What is an Executor?

When a person passes away, an executor is appointed to oversee the probate process. Probate is the legal procedure by which the court validates the will, pays outstanding debts and taxes, and distributes the decedent’s assets to beneficiaries. 

Simply put, an executor is a person named in a will to carry out the instructions of the deceased person. This includes tasks such as:

What is a Trustee?

While will and trust are both essential estate planning tools, a trust operates differently from a will. A trust is a legal entity set up to hold and manage assets for the benefit of specific beneficiaries, called trustors. The trustee is appointed to manage and administer the trust as per the trustor’s instructions, even during their lifetime or after their passing.

Here are the responsibilities of the trustee:

Key Differences between Executors and Trustees

There are several key differences between executors and trustees, including:

Choosing the Right Person for Each Role

When choosing the right person for the role of executor or trustee, it is important to consider the following factors:

Getting the Right Help from Keyes Law Group

Understanding the crucial differences between an executor of a will and a trustee is paramount for effective estate planning and administration. By recognizing these distinctions, individuals can make informed decisions when selecting representatives for their estate plans.

If you need expert guidance in estate planning or require assistance with probate or trust administration, reach out to Keyes Law Group. Their experienced and knowledgeable team of estate planning attorneys in San Jose, CA, can provide the expertise and guidance you need to protect your assets and secure your loved ones’ future. Don’t wait; take action today and ensure peace of mind for yourself and your family.


"I have had the pleasure of working with the Keyes Law Group these past months. To date, Mr. Keyes has been a great asset to our family; helping to plan a trust and the appropriate tax strategies for us and the next generation. What has worked very well for my wife and I is the time Mr. Keyes has devoted to not only hearing our financial planning concerns, but to also take the necessary time to explain and offer options for us to consider. We have worked with tax attorneys and financial consultants over the years. For us, a successful relationship is one of the key factors that we strive for. Working with the Keyes Law Group has been a very good fit for us as we work to get our financial affairs in order." -- RY
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