To answer this frequently pondered question you need to know what each role comprises.
An executor is the person appointed by someone in his will (the ‘testator’) to manage his affairs once he has died. This means to collect in all the testator’s property, to pay his taxes and debts and then to distribute the rest of his assets in the way that the testator has described in his will
An administrator’s role is very similar but it relates to someone who has died without making a will and accordingly the administrator is not been chosen by the deceased, but the law sets out the group of relatives who may act as administrator and if more than one wishes to act, the order of priority. These circumstances are called an intestacy, death without a will. The law further provides the way that the estate is to divided after all expenses, debts and taxes are paid.
Both executor and administrators are subject to the same rules of accountability and trust that are set down by law and in practice the roles are very similar- collecting in the property of the deceased, paying the debts, paying any tax due on the estate and then transferring what is left to the beneficiaries.