What is the difference between an executor and a trustee?
An executor is the person (or entity) nominated in a Last Will and Testament to collect assets for probate, pay creditors and debts of the estate, and distribute remaining assets pursuant to the law and Last Will and Testament. The executor may be an individual (including family members) or a corporate fiduciary (bank, attorney, CPA, or trust company). Most states do not require an attorney to assist in the probate process; however, an attorney will be able to assist with proper and efficient administration, while limiting liability to the executor.
A trustee is similar to an executor, in that a person or entity is nominated in a legal document to manage and administer assets. The legal document creating a trust can be incorporated in a Will or during life in a separate trust document. Unlike a Will, a trust does not have to be evaluated by a court and avoids probate.