Pros & Cons of Having Co-Executors

two women at table examining paperwork

Posted by Heritage Law on Mar 21, 2024 in Blog, Wills & Estate

Choosing who will execute a will is an important decision with far-reaching implications.

In some cases, individuals choose to have co-executors to divide the responsibilities and workload.

However, having two executors for your will has certain advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of having co-executors so that you can make informed decisions when it comes to your estate planning:

The Roles and Responsibilities of Executors

Executors shoulder the responsibility of managing a deceased individual’s estate.

Their duties include a wide range of estate-related tasks to ensure that assets are preserved and maintained according to the deceased’s wishes.

Here are the main roles and responsibilities of executors:

Managing the Deceased’s Estate

The main role of an executor is to manage the deceased’s estate efficiently.

This includes taking an inventory of assets, which can range from physical properties to financial holdings.

Executors must also ensure that the estate is distributed to beneficiaries.

Distributing Assets to Beneficiaries

Executors are tasked with the crucial responsibility of distributing assets to beneficiaries in a timely and fair manner.

This process requires careful adherence to the will, as well as an understanding of the deceased’s intentions and the needs of the beneficiaries.

Paying Debts and Taxes of the Estate

Another important executor duty is the settlement of any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the estate.

This requires a thorough examination of the deceased’s finances, including liabilities and obligations.

This responsibility also includes allocating resources to fulfill financial obligations within the confines of the law.

The Pros of Having Two Executors

Choosing to have two executors for your will does offer some potential advantages.

Having two people handle your will can facilitate a more streamlined and efficient process.

Shared Workload and Responsibility

By appointing two executors, the responsibilities of handling your will and estate are distributed between them.

This helps to avoid the risk of overwhelm or burnout from shouldering the entire burden alone.

The division of labor allows each executor to focus on specific aspects of the estate.

Collaboration and Diverse Perspectives

Having more than one executor allows each person to bring their unique skills, experiences, and insights to the table.

This can help with decision-making when it comes to the estate administration process.

Each executor brings their unique skills, experiences, and insights to the table.

Backup in Case of Unavailability

Appointing co-executors creates a built-in backup system.

If an unforeseen circumstance happens, such as illness or unavailability, the other executor can step in and ensure the execution process continues.

This safeguards the integrity and progress of the execution process.

Checks and Balances

Having two executors means that two individuals are jointly responsible for overseeing the execution of the will, so there is an inherent system of checks and balances in place.

This can help prevent errors and oversights from happening since each executor can review and verify the actions of the other.

The presence of co-executors can contribute to a more transparent and accountable approach to estate management.

The Cons of Having Two Executors

a man and a woman argue over paperwork

However, despite the advantages of having two executors, this arrangement can also present some disadvantages.

From disagreements to conflicts, here are some things you should keep in mind:

Potential Conflicts and Disagreements

Co-executors may find themselves at odds with one another due to differences in opinion, priorities, or approaches to estate administration.

These conflicts can slow down the process and cause unnecessary stress.

Difficulty Reaching Agreements

The need for consensus between co-executors can complicate decision-making processes.

This is particularly true if the individuals involved struggle to reach agreements on important matters related to the estate.

Differing interpretations of the deceased’s wishes or conflicting priorities can create challenges and lead to delays.

Increased Complexity and Communication Challenges

Managing an estate with co-executors introduces additional layers of complexity.

Effective collaboration requires clear and open lines of communication. It also requires a willingness to compromise and work toward common goals.

However, differing schedules, communication styles, and personal dynamics can get in the way and lead to misunderstandings and inefficient estate administration.

Disruption of Family Dynamics

Another drawback of having two executors is the potential for conflicts between family members that can lead to strained relationships and lasting rifts within the family.

Disagreements can escalate into personal disputes and jeopardize family harmony.

Dealing with an estate is a complicated part of the grieving process, and the emotional toll can impact familial relationships.

What Happens if Co-Executors Do Not Agree?

In cases where co-executors are unable to reach an agreement on important matters, there are several courses of action that can be pursued in order to resolve conflicts.

Here are the most common:

Mediation or Arbitration

Mediation or arbitration involves the services of a neutral third party, such as a mediator or arbitrator.

Co-executors can work with a mediator or arbitrator to find mutually acceptable solutions. Doing so can help avoid estate litigation.

Court Intervention and the Removal of One or Both Executors

If conflicts persist even with the help of mediation or arbitration, court intervention may be necessary.

In extreme cases, this could involve the removal of one or both executors from their roles and the appointment of a new representative.

Court proceedings can be time-consuming, costly, and emotionally taxing.

Impacts on Estate Administration or Potential Delays

Disagreements between co-executors can have a significant impact on the administration of the estate.

This could result in delays, financial losses, and interpersonal tensions.

Beneficiaries may experience frustration and uncertainty as the execution process stalls. Creditors and other stakeholders may seek legal action to protect their interests.

Heritage Law – Here To Help You Make Informed Decisions

No matter what you decide when it comes to your executors, seeking professional guidance from an Edmonton wills and estates lawyer should be your first step in estate planning.

At Heritage Law, we are committed to providing expert legal advice and personalized assistance to help you make informed decisions.

Contact us today, and let’s get started on ensuring your wishes are honored and your legacy is protected for future generations.