Naming More Than One Executor

What are the potential drawbacks of naming co-executors?

The role of executor is an important one.  Your named executor will be tasked with managing and protecting your assets, settling all debts, and ultimately distributing the assets in your estate.  Within your will or trust, you can name an individual to serve as the executor, or in the similar role of trustee. At times, people will struggle to name an executor and may consider the option of selecting more than one executor.  Naming co-executors can at times serve a purpose, but there are some potential drawbacks to choosing two or more executors. Our California estate planning lawyers discuss the pros and cons of naming more than one executor below.

The Role of Co-Executors

Co-executors are two or more people named as an executor within your will.  Related to the concept of multiple executors is that of co-trustees, wherein your trust names multiple trustees.  Co-executors are typically given complete control over the estate. Co-trustees may instead have just partial authority, depending on how your trust is written.  Generally, co-executors will need to collaborate to make decisions regarding the estate. They will need to act together to perform critical estate tasks.

Pros of Co-Executors

Co-executors can be helpful when an estate consists of multiple types of assets that may require the skill of more than one person to manage.  For example, if your estate involves both tangible and digital assets, you could nominate one executor well versed in the unique management of digital assets and another familiar with traditional real assets.  In this manner, co-executors could be better able to manage your assets in the best possible manner.

Cons of Co-Executors

The drawbacks to naming more than one executor mainly revolve around the potential for conflict.  If the co-executors disagree on a central task, this could raise potential legal issues and even give rise to litigation. Co-executors may find themselves in a stressful situation attempting to manage the estate and get along with someone else.  This is not to say that the co-executive arrangement cannot work. With careful selection of your co-executors, good planning, and detailed advance communication as to your wishes, two or more executors can succeed in their role of managing and distributing the estate.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.