Today I met with a client who was joint executor with his brother on his parent's estate. He has found that his brother's help has been no help at all - in fact, it has frustrated him. What has his brother done? Nothing that that is too bad. He has come to all the meetings and done the bare minimum to be an adequate executor. The client I met with took his position very seriously and diligently took notes on the actions he had made, advised family members of where the estate was at and worked with the accountant. Whats the problem with the parent's appointment of joint executors? The hardworking brother was frustrated that his brother was slow to act, didn't take notes and when asked to do something made it seem like it was a major inconvenience because he had other more important things to do.
As you may know, I strongly recommend to all my clients that they strongly look at not appointing two or more people as joint executors. Even worse, don't appoint three kids to work together. If you can't arrange for them all to come to your house for dinner how do you think they will all work together after you are gone. Some of the red flags that should make you think twice about appointing your children as joint executors are:
- Is one child poor with money?
- Is one of your children recovering from an addiction or mental health issue?
- Does your child work long hours or have other family commitments that may get in the way?
- Do your children get along? How about there spouses with your other children?
- Does your child lifestyle or religious beliefs differ from your own or those of your other family members?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should revisit your will and consider appointing just one child instead of both children.
I know that it is hard to talk about these issues and as parents, we want to treat our children fairly but this is the one place where treating your children equally can turn out to be unfair. If in doubt name all your children individually rather then jointly. If your questioning the ability of your children to take on this task contact our office and ask for our executors grading sheet.
This one-page sheet lets you work through each of your named executors, provide them with a final grade and determine if they are fit for the role. If in doubt contact our office to meet and discuss your options. Remember we are here to help!
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