What is the Difference Between an Administrator and an Executor in Probate?

Posted in Breach of Fiduciary, Probate, Probate Litigation. Tuesday, Feb 21st, 2017

In Ohio probate cases, administrators and executors have fairly similar responsibilities. That being said, there is also a key difference as well. Here we briefly discuss the key difference between the position and we also explain some things you should know when choosing an executor for your estate.

The Primary Difference: Appointment

An Executor is Selected By the Decedent

When a person writes a will, they typically name the individual who will be responsible for overseeing that will during the probate process. This person is known as the will’s ‘executor’. In the vast majority of cases, Ohio probate courts will accept the named individual as the official executor. However, it should be noted that courts do have the power to reject a person as an executor. Generally, the court will only do this if it is determined that the selected person is incapable of performing the job.

An Administrator is Appointed by the Court

An administrator will be appointed by the court to oversee the probate process if there is no selected executor who is able or willing to perform. A court will also appoint an administrator for an individual’s estate if that person died without ever naming an executor or without ever writing a will. If there is no executor, interested parties (including family members of the deceased) can petition the probate court to be appointed as the estate’s administrator.

Requirements to be Appointed as an Executor in Ohio

Under Ohio law, there are three primary requirements that a person must meet before they can be appointed as an executor:

  1. They must be at least eighteen years old;
  2. They must be ‘competent’ in the eyes of the law; and
  3. They must meet the bond requirements.

In many circumstances, the state of Ohio mandates that a bond must be posted at the time that an executor is appointed. Essentially, a bond is insurance that protects the beneficiaries of the will from any potential misconduct or negligence at the hands of the executor. Of course, this means that the person appointed actually has to be able to be ‘bonded’. If no private company is willing to post a bond on behalf of a person (perhaps because of a prior criminal record or because of bad credit history) then that person will generally not be able to serve as an executor. That being said, there are some very limited exceptions to this provision.

Exception to the Bond Requirements

Section 2109.07 of the Ohio Revised Code does not require a bond be posted when either of the following conditions are met:

  • The surviving spouse is administering the estate, and they are entitled to the full value of the estate; or
  • The next of kin is administering the estate, and they are entitled to the full value of the estate.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

The experienced probate law team at the Law Office of Mike Gertner is standing by, ready to help. We have over four decades of experience handling probate cases. To set up a no-fee, no-obligation review of your case, please call our Columbus office today at 614-463-9393 locally or toll free at 877-772-1011.