When drafting a will, our clients with more than one child often request that we name both of their children as co-executors so not to offend one of them. While that decision is ultimately up to our client, in most circumstances, that is not the best solution.
First, if one or more of the children have moved away from the area, it can be difficult to discuss matters with all the executors at the same time. This is especially a problem with signing checks to pay the estate’s expenses. Within the last week, we had a sizable check to pay the Inheritance Taxes lost by Federal Express, and a Petition lost by the US Postal Service. Both items were sent to out of state executors. While we have receipts from both carriers, the Department of Revenue will NOT grant much leeway when you claim that the “check was lost in the mail.”
Second, with two equal voices, it is very easy to end up in a deadlock, and no tie breaker. This can, and has resulted in extensive litigation and cost to the estate, breaking the family further apart than has ever been the case. Even if they get along now, the decisions to be made can quickly destroy that relationship.
We strongly suggest you pick ONE of your children to handle the estate’s affairs. We can easily name the other as substitute executor in the event the named executor resigns or can’t serve. This demonstrates that you have no lack of faith in them. If you’re having problems picking which child to name, an easy solution is to pick the oldest.