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Joint & Several Executors – What is the Difference?

If you are in the process of creating your will, then you may find yourself wishing to appoint more than one person to carry out the terms of your will. These individuals are called co-executors, and they are crucial in ensuring that the wishes that you listed in your will are honored.

Reasons for appointing multiple Executors

The need for multiple executors can arise in a multitude of circumstances. You may have multiple children that you wish to appoint to carry out the terms of your will. Alternatively, you may have a large estate that you will be leaving behind, and may wish to appoint multiple executors to be in charge of handling different matters with regard to your estate. You may also simply want to ensure that someone is holding your executor accountable in honoring your wishes. In any instance, appointing co-executors may be a wise move. If you choose to appoint two or more people as co-executors of your will, then it is important understand the different ways that these executors can be appointed.

Appointing Executors to act jointly

By appointing executors to act jointly, your will instructs the named co-executors to agree unanimously to and work together on all matters related to your estate. In other words, co-executors may not make decisions on their own accord—they must instead work as a team to carry out the terms of your will. This ensures that neither executor can overrule the other’s opinion on how to carry out your estate.

As you might expect, conflicts can quickly arise between joint executors. Oftentimes, executors will have differing opinions on how to handle matters related to your estate. Such disagreements between executors can cause animosity between the executors and lead to delays in the administration of your estate.

Appointing Executors to act jointly and severally

If you choose to name multiple individuals as co-executors, then you also have the option of naming them as co-executors “jointly and severally” in your will. Appointing co-executors to act severally means that each co-executor can make decisions with regard to the handling of your estate on their own accord, and do not need the unanimous decision of other co-executors to act and create binding decisions. Allowing co-executors to act severally alleviates problems with regard to an inability to come to a unanimous decision about your estate, but can understandably create other problems—namely, one co-executor may go against the wishes of the other named executors and make a binding decision about your estate that is contrary to the best interests of the estate.

Don’t act alone—let an Estate Planning Attorney help you today

Whether you choose to appoint co-executors to act “jointly” or “jointly and severally” can make an impact on how your will is carried out. As this is an important decision that can have even more important consequences, it is extremely beneficial to seek advice from a competent estate planning lawyer before deciding how your appointed co-executors will act. If you are struggling with this decision, the experienced lawyers are here to help you every step of the way. To speak to an attorney, call 905-273-5778 today.