In many cases when two minds work together for one purpose, it’s a good thing, but in some instances it can backfire. When first thinking about it, naming two executors to administer an estate plan might seem like a pretty good idea, but is it, really? In Ontario, it’s a pretty common occurrence with one executor looking after the financial aspects of an estate, while the other takes care of more personal things. There are times, too, when more than two executors are named, with a third taking care of complex legal issues and complex financial duties.
Pros and cons
Professionals have indicated there are positives and negatives in having co-executors. Here are some things to think about before making a decision:
- Multiple viewpoints. It may be beneficial to have more than one perspective on issues.
- Double-checked facts. The estate will be double checked by both executors.
- Divided duties. The process may be less taxing when there are two or more people involved and the estate might be administered more quickly.
- Professional opinion. When one executor is a family member and the other is a professional with financial and/or legal expertise, it can be helpful with more complex issues.
- Both liable. Under the law in Ontario, both executors are liable for all mistakes made, including those made by the other executor.
- Can cause delays. Because of the communication necessary between the executors, it could add time to administering the estate.
- Possible family conflicts. When two family members who don’t see eye to eye are thrown together as executors, it could spell disaster and create conflict among loved ones.
It’s good to know, however, that an executor who believes they won’t be able to work positively with the other executor has the opportunity of renouncing their duties. Ontario residents in this position may want to seek independent legal advice. It may be best to discuss the options with an experienced estate planning lawyer.