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Sudden Wealth Blog

Will Personal Representative vs Trustee: Understanding the Differences

Man on laptop researching difference between will personal representative vs trustee

When it comes to estate planning, two important roles often come into play: the personal representative and the trustee. While these terms may sound similar, they hold distinct responsibilities and functions within the legal framework. Understanding the key differences between a will personal representative vs trustee is crucial for anyone involved in the estate planning process, whether as a personal representative, trustee, or a beneficiary.

What is a Will Personal Representative?

A will personal representative, also known as an executor, is the person named in a will to manage the deceased person’s estate after they pass away. This includes tasks such as paying off debts, distributing assets to beneficiaries, and filing tax returns. The personal representative is responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in the will and ensuring that the estate is settled according to state laws. It’s important to choose someone trustworthy and capable of handling these responsibilities.

What is a Trustee?

A trustee is a person or entity that is appointed to manage assets for the benefit of another person or group of people. This can include managing a trust fund, investments, or other assets. The trustee is responsible for making decisions about how the trust assets are invested or distributed, and must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. Unlike a will personal representative, a trustee is typically appointed while the person is still alive and can continue to manage the assets even after the person passes away.

Responsibilities of a Will Personal Representative.

A will personal representative is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased as outlined in their will. This includes managing the deceased’s assets, paying off any debts or taxes owed, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. The personal representative is also responsible for filing any necessary paperwork with the court and ensuring that the probate process runs smoothly. Unlike a trustee, a will personal representative is only appointed after the person has passed away.

Responsibilities of a Trustee.

A trustee, on the other hand, is responsible for managing assets that have been placed in a trust. This includes prudently managing the assets, distributing income or principal to beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust, and ensuring that the trust is administered in accordance with the law. Unlike a will personal representative, a trustee can be appointed while the person who created the trust is still alive and can continue to manage the trust even after their death or incapacity. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and must follow the terms of the trust document.

Get Help Administering Your Loved One’s Legal Affairs.

If you are tasked with administering the legal affairs of a loved one who has passed away or become incapacitated, it can be overwhelming to navigate the complex legal system. Understanding the differences between a will personal representative and a trustee can help you determine which role you may need to fill. It’s important to seek the guidance of a qualified attorney who can help you understand your legal obligations and ensure that you are fulfilling your duties in accordance with the law.

Let Us Help You.

Are you named as a will personal representative or trustee of a trust? The complex responsibilities and legal obligations that come with these roles can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate them alone. At Sudden Wealth Protection Law, we specialize in estate planning and administration, and our experienced team is here to guide you through every step of the process. Whether you need assistance in understanding your duties, managing complex assets, or ensuring compliance with legal requirements, our dedicated attorneys are ready to provide you with personalized support and expert advice. Don’t let the weight of these responsibilities burden you – call us today at 602-443-4888 and let us help you fulfill your obligations with confidence and peace of mind.



Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.