Selecting the right person to handle your estate can be challenging. Although most people decide to pick just one executor for their will, co-executors can help lessen the burdens that fall on a single executor. Setting up your will this way can be a positive thing for everyone involved, but it is important to speak with your estate planning attorneys so they can help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of co-executors.
What Is A Co-Executor?
Most people name an executor in their will with contingent executors, who take over should the original appointee die or is unable or unwilling to perform their duties. Typically, a spouse or adult child is named the primary executor, with other adult children and family members as contingent executors.
Each person named as a primary executor shares the responsibility of managing an estate. In cases where there are two or more adult children, parents sometimes name all of them as co-executors to avoid the appearance of favoring one child. While this is a nice sentiment, it can lead to serious conflict.
Duties of Co-Executors
To avoid problems, it is critical to be specific about how co-executors are to fulfill their duties. There are several ways to do this. For example, if you name three co-executors, you can specify that decisions must be made by a majority vote, that all of them are required to take action together, or that any one co-executor has authority to act alone. To effectively and efficiently handle the process, they must collaborate and communicate with each other.
Some duties of executors include:
- Managing the assets of the estate
- Paying debts
- Distributing property and assets to heirs
- Keeping an accounting of the estate
- Filing taxes
Probate attorneys can often be helpful when co-executors are involved, as they provide an objective perspective that can keep things running smoothly.
Benefits of Naming Co-Executors
Co-executors can share the work of settling an estate and help each other with any problems or questions that arise.
Each co-executor may have specific skills that can be applied to different facets of the estate. For example, if one co-executor works as a local bankruptcy attorney, they may have an easier time determining which of a decedent’s debts need to be paid and which may not be valid.
If you own a business and want to ensure that part of your estate is properly handled, naming someone who understands business and succession planning can help protect your heirs’ rights.
Disadvantages of Appointing Co-Executors
Issues between co-executors can delay the probate and estate administration process. Some examples of these issues include:
- Personal conflicts unrelated to the estate
- The majority of the work falling on one co-executor
- One co-executor believing that another is monopolizing what should be shared responsibilities
- Disagreement over the value of assets
- One co-executor may simply be unable to handle the tasks that are required of them
Who you choose as executors of your estate is a personal decision. Our team of wills and trusts lawyers, estate planning attorneys, business lawyers, and local criminal defense lawyers and attorneys for real estate law can help you handle any legal issue that may come your way.