What’s the difference between an executor and a trustee, or are they the same thing?

An executor is a person who is responsible for carrying out your wishes (as set out in your Will) when you die.
What’s the difference between an executor and a trustee, or are they the same thing?

An executor is a person who is responsible for carrying out your wishes (as set out in your Will) when you die.

The executor role ends when all of your assets have been dealt with (or distributed) in accordance with your Will.  A Trustee is a person who holds assets on behalf of someone else (that someone else is called a beneficiary, or the person who is entitled to benefit from those assets). If an executor is looking after assets for someone, then in that capacity they are acting as a trustee. For example, a person dies and has a five-year-old daughter. Their Will says that their house is to go to their daughter.

The executor then holds that house “on trust” until the daughter is old enough to have that house transferred into her name. This is why an executory is sometimes referred to as “an executor and trustee”. A person who is a trustee under a Family Trust has a similar role, in that they are looking after the assets owned by the trust, for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust, but their role comes about as a result of the Trust Deed, not as a result of a Will.

Confused?

For more information about executors and trustees, get in touch with one of our Estate planning team.

By
Sue Garmonsway
Director

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