Q: I have two grown daughters who get along well, and treat me with great care and respect. Now that my husband has passed away, I need to update my will. I am considering both my daughters to be co-executors. Is this a good idea or not, Julie? What do you suggest?
A. Have you ever noticed that there are those who are very good at making decisions and those who couldn’t make a decision if their life depended on it? While these are two extreme examples, everyone is somewhere between those two extremes – a mixed bag of opinions, emotions, thoughts, feelings, theories, etc. You never know what you’re going to get when you add different moods and personalities to the mix.
Even when you know someone very well, the tide can easily turn when one is grieving and handling an estate, which is a very stressful situation. The slow and steady brother suddenly rears up and causes strife which you did not expect. The quiet, reclusive sister becomes the chronic complainer to the point of estrangement. Another sister is refusing to move out of the home, causing major financial problems for the family. Finally, the long-lost baby brother no one has heard from in years surfaces, demanding his share.
One executor is difficult enough, for they can never make everyone happy and are always the target. Having co-executors is not often recommended by legal professionals for these reasons: differences of opinion, geographically remote from the location of the estate, one can easily cause trouble, the other can drag out the sale of the estate against the family’s wishes. You name it and I’ve seen it!
I think many people choose co-executors because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. In the end after they leave this earth, the hurt, pain, and grief that their decision has caused can be unbearable.
Bottom line: Think long and hard before assigning co-executors. It may be best to assign this role to someone who is completely objective, rather than either of your daughters.
© 2011 Julie Hall