One of the most important decisions you have to make when making a last will and testament is deciding on who will be the executor. Also known as a personal representative, your executor has important responsibilities when it comes to managing your property after you die. Because of the vital nature of the position, some people consider naming two or more co-executors. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering naming co-executors.
Why people choose co-executors.
Many people who create a last will and testament are very aware that their gift choices will have an important effect on their children, grandchildren, and other family members. In many situations, such as when parents choose to leave gifts to their children, they want to appear as fair and equal as possible. Because of this, many parents choose to name both or all of their children as co-executors. When they do this, they’re not doing it because they believe coal executors will be better able to manage the estate, but rather, because they want to appear fair.
Single executors are usually better.
Unfortunately, choosing two or more executors because you do not wish to appear biased can backfire. The executor’s role is to manage the estate. This means the executor will have to pay any outstanding estate bills, manage the probate process, sign any documentation related to the management of the estate, and keep track of taxes, financial accounts, and other important paperwork.
When you name two or more executors these management duties often become unnecessarily cumbersome. For example, co-executors will have to agree on how to manage the estate. Even if they can regularly meet with one another and have good communication, agreeing on every different aspect of the management process is not always feasible. Further, if any disagreements occur, these can deplete the estate of some funds and lengthen the estate settlement process.
In short, naming two or more executors is usually not necessary, and can pose significant risks to the estate.
Co-executors can be useful.
On the other hand, there are a few situations in which naming co-executors can be beneficial. You want an executor who will be able to manage the responsibilities of the estate settlement process. In some situations, the person you trust the most may not necessarily be suited to handle complicated estate settlement affairs. Even though you trust that person and want that person to serve as executor, you might consider naming a co-executor who is more responsible or more well-suited to financial management responsibilities such as a professional fiduciary or trust department of a bank.
In the end, making your decision about who should serve as executor is up to you, but you should never do it without guidance. An experienced and qualified estate planning attorney can help you determine what choice would best fit your needs.