As a parent, you probably hate picking one child over another. They each have their talents and reasons why they should be involved in important end-of-life decisions for you and how to divide up your estate when you’re gone.
Yet it’s still often for the best to have one child who is the main decision maker for you and your estate. It is certainly legal to name more than one if you simply can’t choose, however. It just carries its own pitfalls.
How more than one executor works
If you name in your will more than one executor, they have to all act together as a team for every single step. This means that in going through the probate process they must:
- Make all decisions unanimously
- Sign all title transfers and deeds together
- Be responsible for all bills and debts
- Account for all paperwork
If your family is close, this may not be a particularly hard burden. But it usually makes more sense to have only one executor named to take care of everything just because it is simpler.
How do you pick?
In many families, it’s up to the eldest as a matter of course. That may not make the most sense if your children or other potential heirs live far away. If there is one who simply lives closer, or at least here in New Jersey, they will have an easier time taking care of the details of probate.
In all cases, it makes sense to tell your children or other heirs of your plans. That way there are no surprises and you can explain your logic to them all. It will probably make sense and if there are any hurt feelings over your decision you can hopefully smooth them over.
No matter what, everyone needs at least a simple will with a named executor they can trust to carry out their wishes when they are gone. It’s not a difficult process and it can bring a lot of peace of mind to you and the entire family.