The Advantages and Disadvantages of Multiple Executors

One of the most important decisions, when you are putting an estate plan in place, is the choice of executor or personal representative. That person will oversee the orderly distribution of your estate in accordance with your wishes, Last will and testamentas set forth in your will. In many instances, a spouse or an adult child is the primary candidate. There can be an inclination, when you have multiple children and don’t want to be perceived as playing favorites, to name all your children as joint executors. If you have more than two children serving together, difficulties may arise during the course of the administration of the estate.

When Having Co-Executors Might Be a Good Idea

There are a few unique circumstances where appointing joint or co-executors can be beneficial. For example, if your spouse is in poor health and might be overwhelmed by the process, you may choose to name a co-executor. Additionally, if you own a business, but your spouse is not involved and has little or no knowledge of the business operations, you may want to name a partner or other executor to the limited duty of handling the business assets.

Why Naming a Co-Executor Might Not Be a Good Idea

The biggest problem with naming more than one executor (assuming they have equal powers) is that they generally have to act together.

As a general rule, naming co-executors makes the probate process take much longer, as all parties must qualify to serve as Executor. They also must be consulted regarding all decisions. If one or more of the co-executors lives some distance away, the process can drag on for months or years.

A better approach may be to establish a hierarchy, and name a single executor, with other siblings as contingent executors. For example, name your oldest child as executor, but allow the second child to be appointed, should the oldest child be unavailable or choose not to serve. That will make things run a lot smoother and will minimize conflict.

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