Is it Wise to Have Three Grown Children Named Co-Executors of Your Will?
June 01, 2022
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” Ann Landers
“There are only two lasting bequests we hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Is it a good idea to have your three grown children listed as co-executors of your will? This may get somewhat confusing when probating a will, if there are multiple executors.
What are the pros and cons to choosing one child to act as your executor, instead of selecting all three of your children to act together?
nj.com’s recent article asks “I’m planning my will. Is it bad to have more than one executor?”
The article explains that the duty of the executor is to gather all the decedent’s assets, pay any outstanding debts and liabilities and then account for and distribute the remaining estate to the beneficiaries, according to the instructions in the decedent’s will.
The executor is allowed to hire professionals and others to help with tasks, like completing a decedent’s final income tax return or preparing the home for sale.
When you have multiple executors appointed, these tasks can be assigned to each person to lessen the burden of the many duties and responsibilities that an executor has.
On the downside, if those appointed can’t work together easily and without strife, appointing multiple siblings can make the administration of an estate much more difficult due to arguments, conflicts of interest, one sibling taking the lead to the resentment of the others or one executor undermining another executor’s actions.
The problem is, in situations where the siblings don’t get along, designating one of them as executor can cause hard feelings and conflict. It’s not uncommon for those siblings who aren’t named as executor, to complain about every decision made by the named executor or delay in the administration of the estate.
If there are multiple executors, the majority rules. That can avoid deadlock. Simple math in this case says that you want to avoid naming an even number of executors or name a person who can act as the tiebreaker.
Even with a “majority rules” agreement among the executors, there are some financial institutions and other entities that may require all the executors to sign documents and/or checks on behalf of the estate. This can become burdensome and inefficient, if there are multiple executors.
Speak with your estate planning attorney about your family dynamics and get their opinion about what would be best in your personal situation.
- nj.com (May 22, 2019) “I’m planning my will. Is it bad to have more than one executor?”
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