Naming More Than One Personal Representative in Your Florida Will
One of the first decisions a person must make when creating a Florida Will is selecting the person they wish to serve as the Personal Representative (sometimes called Executor in other states) of their Estate.
For many married individuals with adult children, the decision is usually to name their spouse as their Personal Representative. If the surviving spouse cannot serve, then one or more adult children could serve in that role. However, is it wise to appoint more than one child as a Personal Representative? Many individuals consider naming their children as Co-Personal Representatives to keep one or several of their children from feeling “left out.” What about naming your surviving spouse to serve with one or more of your adult children? Some people think it is reasonable to select not just one executor, but multiple co-executors of their will.
Pros and Cons of Selecting Multiple Personal Representatives of Your Will
There are many factors to consider when selecting multiple people to act as Personal Representatives of your Estate. It is important to consult with your attorney to determine whether or not this is a practical decision.
From a legal perspective, a testator can name as many Personal Representatives as they want in their Will. However, doing so may carry certain implications. The Personal Representative of your Will has the duty to marshal your assets, notify your creditors of your passing, as well as distribute your estate to the beneficiaries while following instructions outlined in your Will.
The Personal Representative can also hire experts to help with certain tasks (e.g., completing tax returns, performing appraisals, or selling real property). Having Co-Personal Representatives allows splitting these responsibilities between multiple people to make the process easier. However, both Personal Representatives should agree and consent to all of the estate transactions.
When Naming Co-Personal Representatives May Be a Good Idea
In many cases, selecting multiple Personal Representatives instead of just one can be beneficial. For example, since most people tend to choose their spouse to act as the initial Personal Representative of their Will, but this might become frustrated if your spouse is elderly. An elderly widowed spouse is more susceptible to undue influence, abuse, and incapacity concerns. In this case, having a Co-Personal Representative serve with the surviving spouse may be a good idea to ease the burden of an estate administration.
Another situation in which naming Co-Personal Representatives could be useful is if you own a business. If your spouse – or another Personal Representative of your choice – has little business experience, it might be a good idea to name Co-Personal Representatives to ensure proper business succession.
When Selecting Co-Personal Representatives May Be a Bad Idea
However, naming multiple representatives carries significant risks because all of your Co-Personal Representatives will have decision-making power. If the appointed Co-Personal Representatives do not get along well and cannot work together, it may complicate the estate administration process due to conflicts of interest, arguments, and disputes.
In that case, your personal representatives could undermine each other’s actions and stall the administration of your estate, which may eventually lead to probate litigation. Unfortunately, many Floridians choose Co-Personal Representatives simply because they do not want to favor one child over the other. They select two, three, or more children to act and it ends up delaying the administration of the estate, and oftentimes wasting estate assets over disputes.
When a disagreement arises between Co-Personal Representatives, the majority rules to avoid deadlock. For this purpose, it is recommended to choose an even number of joint personal representatives or appoint a person who will serve as the tiebreaker.
Speak with our St. Petersburg estate planning attorneys to determine whether you should have multiple representatives in your Will. Contact Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, for a comprehensive case review at 727-471-5868 today.