When siblings get along and have each other’s best interests at heart, they may happily share the burden of being the executor of a parent’s estate.
When they mix like oil and water, however, having siblings as “co-executors” of an estate can be an absolute disaster.
Siblings at odds make bad co-executors for numerous reasons
Sometimes parents set up their wills this way because they’re trying to be fair. They may completely understand the dynamics between the siblings but figure that the only thing more difficult than having them share the responsibility would be to name one as executor and not the other.
Other times, parents set things up this way in an attempt to make the siblings work together and (hopefully) find some common ground through which they can mend their relationship.
Here are some reasons this approach, whatever the reasoning, isn’t really advisable:
- It could make the sibling relationship even worse: Whatever the cause of the discord between siblings, the death of a parent can bring a lot of raw emotions to the surface. That can lead to unnecessary disagreements and whole new levels of conflict if they’re forced to interact together frequently until they’ve had time to process their feelings.
- It could make it harder to settle the estate: Two executors means two signatures are needed on everything. Disagreements can lead to complications, cause delays and increase the cost of probate, depleting the estate.
- It could lead to litigation: If one sibling seems to shirk their duties or is particularly combative toward the other, it can foster resentment and lead to fiduciary mistakes that could further strain the relationship and ultimately lead to legal issues.
If you’re at a loss about how to handle the situation when your children don’t get along and you don’t have anybody else you trust to be your executor, it may be best to consider appointing a professional fiduciary. Since they’re a neutral party hired to handle your estate, neither sibling can feel slighted.
When estate problems are looming over your head, seeking experienced legal guidance can help you to find solutions. Learning more about your options can help you find a viable path forward.