The basics of becoming a co executor of a will

Understanding the basics of becoming a co executor of a will

As painful as losing a loved one can be, what’s worse is when families are ripped apart because of disputes over estates. That’s why it’s important when writing a will to select an executor or co-executor who will carry out your wishes clearly and carefully. 

Think right now about one of your parents or grandparents. Chances are they have a piece of jewelry or art or something else with sentimental value that you’d like to have to remember them by after they’re gone. When that time comes, it will be an executor’s responsibility to carry out their last wishes. The executor will be tasked with handling all matters related to your loved one’s estate, including making sure the right people get the right items. But it’s a bigger job than that.

Executors are in charge of settling debts, canceling payments, distributing property and inheritances, and working with attorneys to administer the estate.

A typical scenario may go as follows:

My sister and I were named “co-executors” in my father’s Will.  What does that mean?

When you and someone else are named as co-executors in a Will, that essentially means that you must execute the Will together.  You must both apply to Probate the Will together.  You must both sign checks and title transfers together.  Basically, neither of you may act independently of the other.

This can prove to be cumbersome and difficult to manage if the co-executors live in different areas.  In fact, I very seldom recommend naming co-executors in Wills that I write for that fact alone.  It simply makes administration of the estate more of a challenge than it necessarily needs to be.  Everyone’s situation is different, of course, but I often recommend my clients name a single person or entity as an executor and another as an alternate executor.

What are the qualities you should look for in an executor?

Family or friend?

Many people appoint a family member or friend to be the executor of their estate. This can be a good decision for a variety of reasons. Family members and friends know you well. You’ve probably had many discussions that would guide them in making difficult decisions. It’s important that they know not just your last wishes, but also the reasoning behind them. However, if your family doesn’t all get along, picking a family member or friend who is partial to one particular group of the family could cause further problems, making any rifts even worse. If this is the case, it’s best to pick someone who is impartial — possibly a professional executor. Your attorney can advise you on this matter.

Organization skills a must

Executors deal with a lot of paperwork. And the process of closing an estate can go on for months, maybe even years. You’ll want to choose someone who can get started quickly and keep track of details as they go. This is another reason why you may not want to pick a close family member or friend. If they are still grieving, the added pressure of the estate can be a lot to deal with. 

Fair but firm

At some point, while administering estates, executors will very likely have to tell someone “no.” Family members often have ideas about how things should go and there can be a temptation to entertain those ideas, but a will is essentially set in stone. You should choose someone who can follow it fairly but firmly. 

These factors and others can make choosing an executor difficult. Murfreesboro probate attorney Michael Craig would be happy to help you and your family make decisions that are right for you.

As always, my office is glad to assist you in preparing your Will and Estate Plan that best protect your loved ones.