From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am a resident of Burlington County, New Jersey and want to modify my will. My two children are older and I want to name them as co-executors. Is naming my children as co-executors a good idea?
Naming your children as co-executors (or “personal representatives”) of your Will can be a fine idea, or a terrible idea, depending on your children. You need to be honest with yourself about how well your children’s personalities work (or do not work) together.
Having your children act as co-executors means that they will have to cooperate in probating your estate. They will both have access to all relevant information, they will both need to sign deeds selling your house and they will both be responsible for filing taxes and paying creditors.
All this “togetherness” can be a good thing for siblings who work well together and who both wish to be involved in the estate. Having both children work together also means they split any fee. Neither will feel as if you favored one over the other. Distance is no longer a problem, either. I have had children serve as co-executors when both lived far outside of New Jersey.
BUT, if they do not work together well, or if one ends up doing all the work, this can end up causing resentment and conflict. Any conflict between your children could end up spilling into court, with both of them hiring lawyers and bringing the estate to a slow crawl.
Your goal should be to make sure handling your estate causes the least amount of conflict within your family as possible. Be honest with yourself about your children. If one would make a better executor than the other, but you feel that naming one child would cause resentment, then your best choice might be naming neither child. Having a sibling or even your attorney serve is a much better idea than risking the chance that your children might stop speaking to one another for years.
If you need assistance with probate or with developing your estate plan in New Jersey, please call one of our Probate Lawyers or Estate Planning Attorneys for a free consultation. We have Estate Planning Attorneys in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota and Florida.