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Should You Appoint Multiple Co-Executors in Your Will?

If you have multiple children, it is not uncommon to consider appointing more than one to act as co-executors of your will. As co-executors, they would manage estate affairs together. In some cases, this is a great decision while in others, it can lead to unintended consequences. If you want to name co-executors, it is important to consider the positives and negatives when preparing your estate plan.

Advantages of Co-Executors

The probate process can be a lot of work for an executor to accomplish around their busy life. Because an executor is responsible for paying the debts of a decedent, managing estate assets and distributing those assets to the beneficiaries named in the will, having multiple co-executors to share some of that workload can be helpful. They can also work together to problem-solve if issues arise. 

Some co-executors may have different areas of expertise that can be relevant to handling and administering estate assets. For example, if your estate is comprised of real property and stocks and bonds, you may want to appoint co-executors who have experience dealing with real estate or brokerage accounts.

If you know that you want to appoint your spouse as executor, but fear that grief, age or other factors may make it too much for him or her to handle alone, it may be beneficial to appoint a child or other family member along with your spouse to assist him or her during that time.

Disadvantages of Co-Executors

An obvious consequence of appointing more than one executor is that it encourages multiple opinions and perspectives on important decisions. Conflicting opinions can be exacerbated by co-executors with long-standing disputes or strained relationships. 

Throughout the probate process, there are multiple instances where all named co-executors will have to sign forms before they can be filed in court. If co-executors live in different states or one is notoriously less responsive than others, these things can cause delays in the probate process which can impact the timeline for distributing estate assets to heirs.

Resolving Disputes Between Co-Executors

Oftentimes, co-executors are required to make decisions unanimously. However, you can and should include language in your will that explicitly provides for how decisions are to be made by co-executors. You can require them to make decisions unanimously, or by a majority vote if there are more than two co-executors. When there are only two co-executors, you should consider including language indicating that where there is a disagreement or impasse, one of the named co-executor’s decision prevails. Many times this can be the older of the two siblings, the one that a parent lives with, or the one already named as power of attorney or health care proxy. 

Choosing Executors

An executor has an important role in your estate plan. If you don’t know who to choose, you should discuss it with an attorney who can help guide you in selecting the best executor or co-executors for your will. 

Our trust and estate attorneys have extensive experience assisting clients with developing a comprehensive estate plan that addresses their concerns and meets their unique needs. Contact one of our attorneys today.