One Executor of Estate or Two?

Do multiple executors of an estate have advantages over a single executor?

When making a will, many people ask their Ohio probate lawyer whether they should name more than one executor to oversee the probate of their estate. The question commonly arises because the testator (the person making the will) has two or more children and he or she does not want to slight any of the children by only naming one executor.

It is certainly understandable that a parent would not want to appear to play favorites in naming an executor. However, naming more than one executor of estate for this reason can cause more woe than good will. If co-executors are named in the will, all the co-executors must act in unison:

  • They must all apply to have the will probated
  • They must make all decisions unanimously
  • They must all sign property deeds and titles for transferring assets
  • They must all sign for the estate's financial accounts, investment accounts, tax returns and any other paperwork
  • They are all responsible for paying the estates bills and debts
  • They are all liable for damage to or loss of any assets

Because co-executors must act together and in agreement, naming multiple executors can cause delays, hardships and disagreements. This is especially true if some of the co-executors live out of town or out of state, or if the co-executors have a tendency to disagree. In cases of extreme disagreements, one executor (or a beneficiary) may decide to petition to have one or more executors removed from the position in order to ensure timely probate of the estate. As you can imagine, such situations can result in many years of resentment, which is usually what the testator is trying to avoid in the first place.

In the case of multiple siblings, the best solution is often to explain to the children why only one executor of estate is being named and why the particular child has been chosen. Since most testators choose their executor for logical reasons, usually the other children see the reasonableness of the choice. As a backup, a testator could name the other children as alternate executors of the estate, so that if the first choice executor does not survive the testator or is unable or unwilling to serve, the alternate executor takes over. This strategy lets all the children know the testator trusts them with their estate.

Multiple Executors of Estate – When Does it Make Sense?

Other situations that prompt testators to consider naming more than one executor is when the surviving spouse is elderly or otherwise unable to handle probate of the estate by his or herself, or when a business is involved and the spouse is not a partner in the business.

When making a will in these circumstances, Ohio probate lawyers at Gudorf Law Group may recommend naming more than one executor of the estate. In the case of a spouse unable to handle the probate process alone, a co-executor can provide the needed assistance, ensure that the will's instructions are followed correctly, and provide assurance to beneficiaries that their inheritance is being handled competently. In the case of a testator with a business, naming a business partner or attorney as co-executor ensures that decisions regarding the business are handled appropriately and that business partners' concerns are addressed.

Overall, choosing an executor can be complicated, especially when there are special circumstances. In Ohio, the probate lawyer's office of Gudorf Law Group, LLC, can assist in making a will and choosing an executor of your estate. Call our office at 1-877-483-6730 to schedule a free consultation.