These terms seem to be used interchangeably, but they each are used based on the specific circumstances of an Estate. All are used to refer to the personal representative (an umbrella term) appointed by the Court to administer the Decedent's estate and carry out his or her wishes at the time of death. The suffix "trix" is simply used to indicate that said person is a female.
Executor (or Executrix) is the title of the personal representative named or being named in a Last Will and Testament to carry out the Decedent's wishes at the time of death. The executor cannot actually serve until he is appointed by the Court through the probate process. Until then, he is simply the named executor in the Will.
Administrator (or Administratrix) is used most commonly when any of the following occur:
There is no Last Will and Testament so the person entitled is determined by law instead.
There is a Will, but there is a vacancy due to the named Executor(s) being unable or unwilling to serve, his death or other circumstances that prevent him from serving or continuing to serve as Executor, and there is no back-up Executor able to be appointed.
There is a Will, but no named Executor(s) qualify under the statute (again, creating a vacancy).
This blog is part of our new series: Translating Legalese with Barton Law. Legalese is used to describe legal terms and documents that are difficult for non-lawyers to understand. As attorneys, it is our job to translate these terms and documents for you to help you make well-informed decisions. Each month we translate legal terms that clients often find confusing so don't forget to check back in monthly!