What is the Difference Between an Executor and a Special Administrator?

When it comes to estate planning, two key individuals can make sure your wishes are carried out smoothly after your passing: the executor (also called the personal representative in Maryland) and the special administrator. Below, the attorney, Douglas C. Lauenstein explains the essential differences between an executor and a special administrator and how enlisting the guidance of a Maryland estate planning attorney can help.

Executor vs. Special Administrator: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between an executor and a special administrator comes down to who makes the choice of the person appointed. If everything is in order before your passing you will likely appoint an executor to execute the provisions outlined in your will. This person is often a trusted family member, friend, or legal professional. Most importantly, the person chosen specifically by the deceased will make sure your wishes, assets, and even debts are handled as specified in the will.

On the other hand, a special administrator is appointed by the court when there is a will contest or a request is made to remove an executor. The court typically selects an attorney or other responsible party to take on the role of special administrator. Their task is similar to that of an executor, involving the management, protection and preservation of the deceased person’s estate.  The special administrator is under constant court supervision and does not have authority to disperse estate funds without court approval.

Having a special administrator appointed will greatly increase the cost to the estate administration. If ensuring that a specific person handles your wishes following your death is important to you it’s best to make sure you have a proper will in place.

Do an Executor and Administrator Have the Same Power?

In short, the answer is no. The executor of an estate typically enjoys a greater degree of control and autonomy in managing the estate. They can make decisions without constant court supervision, as long as they’re following the guidelines outlined in the will. They can petition the court to close the estate and distribute the assets.

Meanwhile, special administrators operate under the watchful eye of the court. Decisions to pay administrative costs of the estate, require court approval. This additional layer of oversight adds greatly to the cost of the estate administration process.

Should You Consult a Maryland Estate Planning Attorney?

An estate planning lawyer possesses the legal knowledge necessary to draft a comprehensive and legally sound will so that your choice of executor is clear and enforceable. In cases where disputes or challenges arise, an experienced attorney can provide invaluable guidance, helping to navigate potential conflicts among heirs or beneficiaries. Each individual’s estate is unique, and a Maryland estate planning attorney can tailor solutions to your specific needs, ensuring that your wishes are accurately reflected in your estate plan.

Understanding the differences between an executor and a special administrator is important when drafting a proper will and during the probate process. The expertise of a skilled Maryland estate planning attorney brings peace of mind so that you can rest assured that your wishes are meticulously documented, reduce the likelihood of disputes, and ensure a seamless distribution of your estate.

Contact Douglas Lauenstein Today For Your Estate Planning Needs

For a consultation tailored to your situation, reach out to the experienced team at Lauenstein Law Firm. We specialize in estate planning, ensuring that your wishes are specified as outlined in your will. Your journey starts with a call to Lauenstein Law Firm— where your well-being is our priority. Contact us today to learn more about our services and the estate planning process.