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Can More Than One Person Serve as Executor?

MP900382652It’s always a good idea to name an executor and a secondary executor, if the primary cannot or decides not to serve. More than that can create some estate and family problems.

Let’s say you have three highly competent children, and they are all near you. Does it make sense for all three of them to be named as co-executors?

According to’s recent article, which asks “I’m planning my will. Is it bad to have more than one executor?” you could be creating a larger problem for the estate and the children.

The article explains that the duty of the executor is to gather all the decedent’s assets, pay any outstanding debts and liabilities and then account for and distribute the remaining estate to the beneficiaries, according to the instructions in the decedent’s will.

The executor is allowed to hire professionals and others to help with tasks, like completing a decedent’s final income tax return or preparing the home for sale.

When you have multiple executors appointed, these tasks can be assigned to each person to lessen the burden of the many duties and responsibilities that an executor has.

On the downside, if those appointed can’t work together easily and without strife, appointing multiple siblings can make the administration of an estate much more difficult due to arguments, conflicts of interest, one sibling taking the lead to the resentment of the others or one executor undermining another executor’s actions.

The problem is, in situations where the siblings don’t get along, designating one of them as executor can cause hard feelings and conflict. It’s not uncommon for those siblings who aren’t named as executor, to complain about every decision made by the named executor or delay in the administration of the estate.

If there are multiple executors, the majority rules. That can avoid deadlock. Simple math in this case says that you want to avoid naming an even number of executors or name a person who can act as the tiebreaker.

Even with a “majority rules” agreement among the executors, there are some financial institutions and other entities that may require all the executors to sign documents and/or checks on behalf of the estate. This can become burdensome and inefficient, if there are multiple executors.

Every family’s situation is different, and the dynamics of three children (and possibly their spouses) may or may not foster a good situation, when the time comes to settle your estate. Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney, and if possible, bring the children into the conversation. Make sure that everyone is clear on what your decision is, and why. Hopefully, by having clear and honest communication and a plan, all three children will do the right thing.

Reference: (May 22, 2019) “I’m planning my will. Is it bad to have more than one executor?”