Probate vs. Administration, Executor vs. Administrator? What’s the difference in Virginia?

We often have clients call and seek assistance handling an estate when a someone passes.  One of the first questions we are often asked is what the difference is between Probate vs. Administration and Executor vs. Administrator.

Very simply, Probate is the process by which the courts get involved in the wrapping up of the estate of a decedent when the decedent had a will.  If a decedent did not have a will, then the process by which the courts get involved in wrapping up the estate of a decedent is called Administration.

Most of the time when probate is necessary, the individual handling the estate is called the Executor named in the will.  If an individual that is not listed in the will serves as the fiduciary they will often be deemed the Administrator CTA.  If there is no will and an individual seeks to serve to handle the estate, they will be called the Administrator once they qualify with the court.

Whether or not a full Probate/Administration is necessary or whether you will need to qualify as Executor or Administrator will be contingent on the assets involved, how the assets were titled and if beneficiary designations were put in place.

If you need assistance probating an estate, working through an administration or are looking to put an estate plan in place to attempt avoid either, our attorneys can help. Please feel free to call us at (804) 423-1382 or email us at to set up a consultation with one of our estate attorneys.