Executor Dictionary of Terms – Administrators: Intestate or without a Will?

Allison was 35 and engaged when she passed away in a car accident. A successful business owner, she was too busy planning a wedding to worry about estate planning. Yet her family wished she had made a will.

Allison had no will and no executor. Only next-of-kin who lived in Allison’s province could act as administrators or legal representatives to handle her estate.

Allison’s brother and sister could not act since they lived in another province.  Allison’s family was forced to pay for a professional executor to administrator her estate.

You can imagine the delay this had on Allison’s business, her pets and the financial support she was giving to an elderly aunt.

During the delay, no one was in charge of her financial affairs. No one could make decisions about the business. Her bank account was frozen.

Appointing Estate Administrators Causes Delays

When a person dies without a will, they have not named an executor. If you die intestate, the government is forced to write a will for you. You have no say in how your money is distributed or who will be in charge.

The government’s rules are not flexible. They specify who can be appointed as your estate’s legal representative.  This person is called a court appointed administrator. In Ontario, this person is an estate trustee without a will.

Estate Administrator or Estate Executor – What’s the Difference?

Is there a significant difference between being an executor and an estate administrator?


Executors get their authority from being named in a will. In some cases, probating the will may not be required. The executor can then wrap up the estate quickly.

Executors can sign tax returns, arrange funerals and obtain financial disclosure.

This is not the case when there is no will and, therefore, no executor.

Someone must apply in court to be appointed as administrator.  Even if all your relatives agree, this can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. This causes unnecessary suffering and expense.

Business Owners Need Wills

Administrators, since they are court-appointed, have only the powers that are specifically given to them.  These powers are limited unless expanded to cover operating costs of a business. Administrators must liquidate and sell Allison’s business.

Executors, on the other hand, can be given special powers in the will. These powers can allow them to operate a business without fear of liabilities should the business lose money.

Estate Planning Tip: Name a backup executor in your will just in case your first choice is unavailable. This avoids a gap in your estate where no one is able to administer it.

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