Should I Name Co-Executors for My Florida Will?
One of the first decisions you need to make when preparing a Florida will is selecting the person you wish to serve as personal representative or executor. In many cases this is not a difficult decision. Most married persons name their spouse or a child. But what if you are unsure about who to name? Could you name multiple executors instead of just one person?
The Difficulties of Working Together
Legally speaking, you are free to name as many executors as you like. But this carries significant risks. Multiple executors means multiple decision-makers. And under Florida law, if you draft a will today and it fails to provide a method for resolving disputes among co-executors–or “joint personal representatives”–then majority rule prevails. Of course, this rule doesn’t help much if you name an even number of co-executors.
In practice, co-executors effectively need to work together when it comes to all major actions involving the estate. For example, if your estate includes your home, both executors must be present to sign any documents selling the property or transferring title to a beneficiary. The co-executors must also agree on a number of small decisions regarding estate administration.
This may not be a problem if you name two people who get along well. The problem is that many Florida residents opt for co-executors simply because they do not wish to favor one child over another. Instead, they name two (or more) children to serve as joint personal representatives. More often than not, this is a recipe for deadlock and delayed administration of your estate.
You are almost always better off naming one child as executor. If for some reason you still do not want to “play favorites,” you should strongly consider naming an outside person, such as your attorney or a professional fiduciary, to oversee your estate.
Potential Benefits of Joint Personal Representatives
All that said, there are situations were co-personal representatives can work just fine, and may in fact be desirable. Let’s go back to most people’s default choice to serve as executor: their spouse. If you and your spouse are in your advanced years, it might make sense to name a second person to serve as co-executor together with your spouse. This way your spouse does not find themselves overwhelmed in their 80s or 90s with the sole responsibility of administering your estate.
Another scenario where co-personal representatives can be useful is where you own (or co-own) a business. If your spouse has no interest in the business, you might wish to name someone who does as joint personal representative. This can ensure decisions regarding the closing or disposition of the business rests with someone who has the appropriate level of technical knowledge.
At the end of the day, every estate planning situation is unique. That is why you should always speak with an experienced Fort Myers estate planning lawyer before making any final decisions regarding your will. Call the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 today to speak with a member of our team about your estate planning needs today.