Allison Harrison
April 20, 2023

Executor vs. Executrix: Understanding Your Role in Estate Planning

Introduction to Estate Management Roles

An executor is a person appointed by the decedent’s will, who oversees the distribution of assets. The executor works with the Court to ensure the filing of the paperwork - they typically work closely with the attorney for the estate. When the executor or female, they are called an executrix. The definition is actually “a female executor.” There is not a gender-neutral term for a non-binary person serving in this role.

Historical Origins of the Term 'Executor'

The term ‘executor’ comes from the Anglo-French “executour“ to mean “a person appointed to see that a will is carried into effect.” This derived from the Latin “executorem/exsecutorem “ which means to “carry out. “

Appointment and Responsibilities of Executors

An executor is usually named in decedents will and thereafter Court appointed to carryout the duties of probating the will. If there is no executor named or if the named executors/executrix are unable or unwilling to serve, the Court will appoint an executor.

Understanding the Role of an Administrator

If there is no will, then the person who oversees the distribution of assets is called the administrator. Courts do not distinguish between male and female administrators - the term is gender neutral. The function of an executor or administrator is the same. The only difference is whether the decedent left a will.