3 Estate Roles: Executor, Trustee, and Guardian

millman law group estate roles

Learn more about three essential estate roles: the executor, trustee, and guardian.

Estate planning can be a beneficial tool for anybody looking to manage the future of their healthcare, wealth, assets, and family. However, navigating the many legal documents necessary to plan carefully can be overwhelming. Working with an estate planning lawyer is highly recommended to achieve the best outcomes. Still, it is always helpful to make sure you understand some of the most important terms and roles that will inevitably come up during your estate planning process. Three of these crucial estate roles are executor, trustee, and guardian. 

The Executor, or Personal Representative

The executor, or the personal representative as they are known in Florida, is the person responsible for “settling” your estate. When you prepare a will, you specify how you want your assets distributed. In that will, you designate the executor who handles your will. Their duties include: 

  • Identifying and determining the value of the deceased’s assets 
  • Using the estate assets to pay off any debts and expenses
  • Distributing to the beneficiaries what assets remain after debts have been paid

Once the estate is settled, the executor is finished. However, this can be a demanding estate role, so it is worth considering the person you trust most to settle your will. If you neglect to designate your personal representative in your will, one will be appointed by the courts after your death. 

The Trustee

Trusts are established for many reasons. You may establish a trust in your will, or separately establish your own living trust today. The testator is the person making the will and who directs that certain assets or part of their estate be held in trust. The trustee then is the person, bank, or trust company that will administer the trust for the beneficiaries specified. 

What makes the trustee different from the executor? One of the primary differences is that while the executor’s job is done once the will is settled, the trustee continues in their role until the trust ends. This often means that the trustee will serve in this role for a prolonged period. For instance, if a grandchild is set to inherit assets in a trust at age 30, as established by their grandparent’s will, a trustee will manage the trust after the grandparent’s death until the beneficiary turns 30.


If you are a parent of minors or children under 18 years old, it is highly recommended that you designate a guardian for them in your will. If you die, the guardian will assume responsibility for the minor children, including providing for their education and health needs until they turn 18. Typically, with married parents, each spouse will designate the other as a guardian. This may also be the case with divorced parents who already maintain custody of their children. 

Designating your guardian is necessary otherwise, the courts will assign this estate role. You undoubtedly know what is best for your family, so appointing a guardian is a step that should not be skipped. 

Estate Planning Made Easy With Millman Law Group

Millman Law Group, PLLC is rare because it’s one of the only law firms that offer life planning in South Florida. From life care planning to the preparation of detailed estate plans, Millman Law Group has committed to serving Floridian elderly communities in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Ocean Ridge, Hillsboro Beach, and many other areas since 2018. Our dedicated team also specializes in special needs trusts and catering to any age demographic because we know for certain it’s never too early to start preparing you and your family for your future. For the latest news in estate planning and elder care law, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Pinterest. You can also contact us at 561-463-6480.