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What are the advantages and disadvantages of having more than one executor?

During the estate planning process, some individuals choose to name more than one executor to ensure their final wishes and distribution of their assets are satisfied.

The usual reason for designating co-executors is to spare the feelings of other offspring. If an individual has two children, for example, naming only one the executor of the estate might be perceived as favoritism or preference.

co-executorsWhile the thought of naming co-executors might seem like a great idea at the time your Will is created, most estate lawyers know that this action can create confusion and even disharmony among the survivors.

So, does having multiple or co-executors ever make sense?

Situations When More than One Executor Might Work

In some instances, two heads can be better than one. Here are some examples:

  • Having co-executors might help to guard against faulty, hasty, or dishonest decisions. Sometimes, other heirs might even prefer to have multiple executors.
  • Co-executors may work when each has different skill sets. For example, if one individual has extensive financial experience or knowledge while the other has skills relative to other assets, they may work in unison to ensure the best decisions are made.
  • When a surviving spouse is elderly or disabled, naming a competent co-executor can make sense to ensure the wishes of the deceased are honored, and the Will is properly executed.
  • If the assets of a business partnership are to be divided, a business partner or designated attorney may be named co-executor to ensure the remaining business partners’ concerns are adequately addressed.

What are the Disadvantages of Having Co-Executors?

Co-executors must work in complete harmony with every decision, document, or transaction.  Sometimes this can become a stumbling block as co-executors may disagree on the interpretation of some aspects of the Will.  

Co-executor situations can be problematic. The reasons are:

  • Disagreements arise that may only be settled in court.
  • The process is very inefficient, especially if co-executors live in different states.
  • The testator’s Will must be admitted to probate in unison.
  • All executors must co-sign each check.
  • Co-executors must sign and file all tax returns together.
  • Co-executors are required to sign all real estate transactions, property deeds, and asset transfers together.

Finally, each executor is legally responsible for the other’s actions. While this can be deemed either a negative or a positive for having multiple executors, the overall process can quickly derail and become mired in liability and legal issues.

Other Solutions: Alternate Executors

Instead of trying to avoid slighting anyone, the testator might consider designating a primary executor and naming the other offspring as successive alternate executors. An alternate would take the position of primary executor if the original is unable or has preceded the testator in death.

In this instance, the parent may name multiple alternate executors, perhaps based on age, geographic proximity, or the individual’s desire or ability to perform the function. By doing so, all offspring will at least be recognized in the Will, and the ruffling of feathers and egos will be minimized.

Health and General POA

A Health Power of Attorney should designate only one individual at a time to make important health decisions while the person is living. This person may or may not be the primary executor of your Will.

Similarly, individuals may designate a General Power of Attorney to manage financial and other affairs while the individual is living but incapacitated.

Contact Nicholas A. Giuditta, Estate Planning Attorney in Westfield NJ

Creating your estate plan, naming executors, bestowing powers of attorney, and creating your Will are important considerations. An experienced, reputable estate attorney can help you to plan forward and answer questions concerning the distribution of your assets.

With a well-developed personal Will that addresses every possible issue, you can ensure fairness and, hopefully, continued harmony among family members after your death.

The Law Office of Nicholas A. Giuditta III will meet with you for an initial consultation to discuss your elder estate matters. Having three decades of experience as an Elder Law Attorney in New Jersey, Mr. Giuditta and staff provide sound advice and necessary preparation to ensure your final wishes will be met.

Located in Westfield, New Jersey, the Nicholas A. Giuditta Law Office is prepared to discuss your needs and help you develop a strategy that will give you peace of mind throughout your remaining years.

Contact us for your Initial Consultation at 1-908-232-0099.