The article Executor of Will a Dubious Honour contains many truisms I discuss with my estate planning clients on a daily basis. Every estate planning consultation in our Riverside estate planning law office involves a discussion regarding who will be in charge of carrying out the client’s wishes upon disability and after death.
An executor is the person who carries out the terms of the decedent’s Will in the Riverside County Probate Court or the San Bernardino County Probate Court. Many parents do not want to disappoint their children, so they name them as executor even though the child may be emotionally or finanically unqualified to serve as executor. On numerous occasions I have had parents go on for a half hour telling me about a child’s inability to manage money or his or her drug or alcohol addiction, only to have then tell me they want the child to serve as executor of the estate. Another familiar occurrence involves parents telling me how one or more of their children are controlled by their spouse and how the spouse is out to grab the money and has turned the child against the family. Yet the parents want to name that child as the executor.
On other occasions the parents have told me they want to name all the children as co-executors because the parents don’t want to be preceived as playing favorites. They disregard the fact that the children live on opposite sides of the country or the fact they have told me the children are not close or have never gotten along with one another.
Many problems can arise from naming children as co-executors:
- Administration can be more difficult because multiple signatures are required to carry out the financial transactions and administratrive procedures. Often, the signatures must be notarized or worse, require Medallion Signature Guarantees. This is particularly a problem where children live in many different areas of the country.
- One or more of the children may have financial problems, a bad credit history, past bankruptcies or criminal convictions which may lead to difficulty insecuring bonding or financing, if needed.
- The children may be unable to agree on a plan of action – either because of legitimate differences of opinion as to the best approach to take with regard to the administration of assets, because of differenes in the financial position of each child, or because of past history of confrontation between the children.
- An impasse may arise and the estate administration may stall if concensus can not be reached between the co-executors.
- Family relations can be permanently damaged or destroyed because of disagreements that arise during the estate administration process.
While it sometimes makes sense to have more than one child looking over the shoulder of the other child to assure that the administrative process is carried out properly, in many situations where these concerns arise it would be much simpler and ultimately less costly to name a bank, trust company or private professional fiduciary as the executor. You can get more information about private professional fiduciaries from the Professional Fiduciary Assocation of California (PFAC).
For more information about probates and trust administrations, see our estate planning website. To schedule a free one hour consultation to speak with one of our estate planning attorneys in our Riverside law office, call 951-888-1460 or visit our website.
Have a question? Ask Dennis.