Clients often ask me if they can name co-executors for their will. The reason they usually ask is that they don’t want to hurt the feelings of one of their children who could have been chosen as an executor. Or perhaps they have children who don’t get along well, and they think that naming both of these children as executors will help remedy the situation to at least some degree when the will is probated.
The short answer is yes you can legally name co-executors for your will. However, it is rarely a good idea to do so. Having more than one executor makes the probate process much less efficient. Likewise, having more than one executor will likely cause bad or difficult feelings between the co-executors, whether they got along before the probate process or not.
When someone is named as the executor of a will they become responsible for performing a series of duties in order to complete the probate process. If you have more than one executor, then these co-executors must perform all these duties together. In some ways this creates twice the work. And in other ways this creates lots of opportunities for disagreements and hard feelings between the co-executors, because it is rare when two people are completely in agreement as to how, when and where things should be done.
Here are some examples of things that would have to be done together by the co-executors. They would need to hire a lawyer together, go to the probate court together, sign all checks and any other documentation for the estate together, make decisions on real estate together, etc. etc.
The logistics of all this alone is bad enough, and then there are so many opportunities for disagreements on how things should actually be done.
What if one co-executor believes the will should be probated relatively soon while the other thinks a longer time of mourning is appropriate? What if one co-executor wants to sell a piece of real estate in your estate to a third party in order to get the most money for it while the other thinks it should be kept in the family somehow even if that’s not likely the best financial decision? Or what if one co-executor starts feeling like they are doing way more than their share of the work while the other one thinks the opposite?
And if the disagreements get too out of control, then the probate judge will have to step in to try to help get things moving in an appropriate way. This can add lots more time and legal fees to the whole probate process. And of course this could also lead to bad feelings between family members that could last for years or even a lifetime.
Quite frankly, although you may think that naming co-executors will help take care of a difficult choice or problem, in many ways this usually creates more opportunities for difficulties and failures than anything else.
If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments section below or contact me directly.