Co-Personal Representatives, and what you need to know.
Authored by: Kendra R. Rozboril
During the Estate Planning process, you will get a chance to choose who you want to become Executor, or Personal Representative, of your Probate Estate should your assets pass through Probate Court. You can appoint just one person, or even multiple people, to handle your Probate Estate. If you do decide to appoint multiple people, there may be advantages to this decision, but there may also be some unintended consequences.
The most common reason people want to appoint more than one person to handle their Probate Estate is because they feel that it is better if one person isn’t making all the decisions. This is particularly common in families with multiple children. Choosing multiple children to serve as Personal Representative means that more than one child has an immediate say over what happens with their inheritance. And in some families, this arrangement can be okay. However, many times, complications arise that tend to turn this advantage into a disadvantage.
When more than one person is appointed as a Personal Representative, logistical problems may quickly arise. For example, most financial institutions require that all Personal Representatives be present to open the Estate bank account. This can create a problem even for Co-Personal Representatives who are in the same state, as conflicts in schedules are bound to exist. Also, some institutions require that all Personal Representatives approve every decision that is made. Coordinating the schedules of each Personal Representative may cause continuous delays in the various steps of the probate process.
Aside from logistical issues, another downside to appointing Co-Personal Representatives is that those appointed often cannot come to an agreement about the necessary decisions. If the Co-Personal Representatives cannot work together and agree, it often results in the individuals petitioning the court to get involved. This typically leads to all Co-Personal Representatives being represented by separate attorneys and hashing out their disagreements in open court. All of this results in extra costs for the estate, meaning there is less money to go around in the end.
When deciding who you want to appoint as Personal Representative, you need to be aware of your options and the dynamic of those you wish to appoint in your Estate Planning documents. If you would like to speak to an attorney about changing your Estate Planning documents, or creating an Estate Plan, please contact our office today to set up an initial consultation.