Co-executors of a will are essential in the process of administering an estate because they make sure the testator’s final desires are followed out and their assets are divided by their instructions.
While many people designate a single executor to fulfill these obligations, co-executors, who split the executorship duties, are also an option.
We will examine the pros and cons of having co-executors of a will in this blog article, as well as how this shared arrangement may affect the will’s administration procedure.
Co-executors, also known as joint executors, are people the testator appoints to collaborate on the estate’s administration.
Before selecting if co-executors are the best option for your specific situation, it is essential to grasp both the pros and cons of this collaborative method.
So, with further ado, let’s dive into the topic.
Most individuals designate one executor in their will along with one or more backup executors, who take over if the original executor passes away or becomes incapable or unwilling to carry out their duties.
Most married persons designate their partner as executor and an adult child as a backup executor. Unmarried individuals with adult children frequently designate the adult child as the principal executor.
On the other hand, co-executors are the estate’s chief executors who divide the administration duties. To avoid appearing to favor one kid over the other, many parents designate two or more adult children as co-executors when there are two or more of them.
Co-executors are basically those who share the task of serving as an executor of a will. A co-executorship is what this position is known as when two or more persons share it.
The dead could have designated them as co-executors or understanding probate court might have chosen them after their death.
Responsibilities and Duties of Co-executors of a Will
Following are the responsibilities and duties of co-executors of a will:
- Describing the will of the parties concerned.
- Inventorying all estate assets and protecting them.
- Announcing the death to the required parties, such as banks, brokers, insurance providers, and governmental organizations.
- Using the estate’s assets to pay off debts and taxes.
- Selling real estate and other belongings that are estate property.
- Collecting money or other obligations that become due after death; and
- Transferring the residual assets to the rightful recipients.
Pros of Co-Executors of a Will:
Here are some of the main pros of co-executors of a will:
1. Shared Tasks and Knowledge:
The capacity to divide the job among co-executors is one of the main benefits. It may take a lot of time and effort to administer an estate, which includes responsibilities like locating and cataloging assets, paying off debts and taxes, and eventually distributing assets to beneficiaries.
The duties can be split between co-executors, allowing each executor to concentrate on particular areas according to their knowledge, abilities, and availability.
This shared responsibility results in a more effective administration procedure while easing pressure on individual executors.
For instance, if one executor has legal experience, they may handle legal issues including interpreting the will, handling conflicts, and making sure all legal requirements are met.
The activities associated with asset evaluation, tax preparation, and financial administration can be handled by an additional executor who has financial knowledge.
This division of labor makes sure that each step of the estate administration is managed skillfully, which is advantageous to the procedure.
2. Backup and Continuity:
Having co-executors guarantees continuity in the administration process in instances where the principal executor is unable to perform their obligations due to unanticipated circumstances such as sickness, disability, or even death.
The remaining co-executor can take over and finish the job without any delays or disruptions. This backup system provides an additional layer of protection, reducing the possibility that the estate would be abandoned or encounter unneeded difficulties.
Additionally, the other co-executor can take over the duties during that time if one co-executor has to travel or be absent for a long time, guaranteeing the orderly conduct of the estate administration.
3. Balances and Checks:
Having co-executors allows for the establishment of a system of checks and balances, which is an additional benefit.
There is less chance of one executor making arbitrary or dubious judgments when there are several executors in charge of managing the administration.
Co-executors can confer with one another, share ideas, and come to informed judgments as a group, assuring accuracy and fairness throughout the process.
Additionally, the existence of co-executors adds another level of defense against any potential malfeasance or poor management.
As a result, the administration is kept open, responsible, and in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. Each executor acts as a check on the others.
4. Communal Emotional Support:
For the executor, losing a loved one can be emotionally difficult, especially if they had a strong relationship with the dead.
In these situations, co-executors can offer emotional support and lessen the stress of managing the estate alone.
Co-executors can help one another through a difficult time by sharing the emotional journey, acting as a support system, and guiding them through the administration process.
5. Professional Cooperation:
Having co-executors with different professional backgrounds might be beneficial in situations when the estate has complicated assets or legal complexities.
For instance, if one executor is a lawyer and the other is a financial planner, their combined experience can help to address legal and financial issues more completely and comprehensively.
This expert collaboration may help executors and decision-makers make more knowledgeable choices and guarantee that the estate is administered with the highest professionalism and knowledge.
Cons of Co-Executors of a Will:
Here are some of the main cons of co-executors of a will:
1. Potential for Conflicts and Disagreements:
The possibility for disagreements and conflicts to develop among co-executors is one of the main worries. Differences in viewpoints, priorities, and views, when several people are engaged in the decision-making process, can cause delays and disagreements.
Disagreements might vary from trivial ones involving administrative technicalities to serious ones involving how the will should be interpreted or how the assets should be distributed.
These disagreements not only slow down the administration but also put a strain on the relationships between the co-executors and potentially agitate the beneficiaries or the family.
Sometimes arguments can get out of hand to the point where legal action is required, which would complicate the administration even more and even raise costs.
2. Long-Term Administration Possibility:
The engagement of many executors might lengthen the administration process even if, in some circumstances, the division of labor can increase efficiency.
Coordination and alignment of co-executors’ actions can cause delays and longer deadlines, particularly if they have divergent schedules or degrees of availability.
Additionally, decision-making may take a long time since co-executors must confer with one another on numerous issues, which can result in drawn-out discussions and potential deadlocks.
Inefficiencies and higher administrative expenses may come from the additional coordination needed for numerous executors.
3. Added Expenses:
The price of administering an estate may go up if there are co-executors. There can be additional costs if each executor needs their own legal or professional counsel.
Additionally, if disagreements or conflicts emerge amongst co-executors, court involvement may be required, raising the total cost of estate management.
When considering whether to name co-executors, it’s critical to consider these possible financial repercussions.
4. Possible for Different Contributions:
Even if the purpose of choosing co-executors is to divide up duties, one executor can contribute much more than the others, and this adds up in the co-executor problems list.
The co-executor relationships may be strained because of this imbalance in contributions, which might also have a detrimental effect on the administration process.
5. Lack Of Consistency and Unanimity:
Co-executors could employ various strategies, priorities, and working methods where co-executors act independently. The administration process may suffer from inconsistencies and a lack of coordinated decision-making as a result of this divergence.
Confusion and inefficiency might result from varying assessments of the testator’s intentions, divergent approaches to handling assets or obligations, and disparate communication preferences.
Furthermore, conflicts among co-executors may result in beneficiaries receiving contradictory information or experiencing delays in the transfer of assets.
This division among the recipients may lead to irritation and unhappiness, potentially straining relationships and betraying family trust.
It is not a choice to be made lightly to name co-executors of a will. It is crucial to properly take into account the particular dynamics of the estate and the parties concerned.
Having co-executors has definite benefits, but there might also be disadvantages. Co-executors must create good communication, uphold openness, and cooperate to achieve a smooth administration process.
The drawbacks of co-executors of a will can be lessened by encouraging cooperation and reducing possible disputes, as well as by keeping lines of communication open, clearly defining duties and responsibilities, and holding frequent meetings.
The decision to choose co-executors or a single executor ultimately comes down to the particulars of each estate and the relationships between the parties.
You may make an educated choice that supports your objectives and assures the efficient administration of your estate with careful thinking, open communication, and expert guidance.
Most often, the paperwork about the estate’s administration must be signed by both co-executors. Their united signatures guarantee that decisions are reached in unison and that both co-executors concur with the course of action.
The number of co-executors that may be chosen is not restricted in any way. However, it is often advised to keep the number within reason to promote effective decision-making and estate management.
Typically, co-executors must work cooperatively to govern the estate. To ensure that their acts comply with the testator’s desires and legal requirements, they must cooperate, make decisions together, and carry out estate administration responsibilities together.
Meet Doug, a seasoned financial planner with over 35 years of experience in providing trusted advice and planning for retirement, estates, income tax, and investments. As a Chartered Accountant (CPA CA), Certified Estate Advisor (CEA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), and Elder Planning Counsellor (EPC), Doug has the expertise and knowledge to guide and support executors through the estate processing journey.