How (and Why) To Name Co-Executors

Co-executors are two or more people that you name as executors in your will. Most estate attorneys discourage people from naming co-executors, though there may be some benefits to having co-executors of your estate.

What are co-executors of a will?

Co-executors are two or more people who are named as executors of your will. Co-executors do not share partial authority over the estate; each person you name as an executor has complete authority over the estate. This means that:

  • Co-executors must collaborate on decision-making and information-sharing with regard to settling the estate
  • Co-executors must act together in all matters related to settling the estate
  • Co-executors may be called on to perform certain duties together, such as going to court to submit the will to probate or signing checks on behalf of the estate. If the two executors you name don't live near each other, this can present serious problems.

Reasons to name co-executors in your will

One of the main reasons to name co-executors in your will is if you have a wide variety of different types of assets that require the expertise of very different people. By naming co-executors, different people can be responsible for different categories of assets. This is specifically useful when accounting for digital assets. If the person who you've named as your primary executor is not very tech-savvy, you might want to name someone who is tech-savvy to serve as a digital co-executor. That way both your real and digital assets can be handled in the way you want by people who are well suited for the job.

Reasons not to name co-executors in your will

Many estate attorneys believe that naming co-executors is a risky idea, mostly because by naming co-executors you're giving multiple people the same power over the same estate, which can lead to unnecessary disagreements, confusion, and complexity. With good planning and communication ahead of time, however, you may be able to name one co-executor to serve as the traditional executor and one co-executor to serve as the digital executor.

To learn more about naming an executor in your will, see our article How to Choose an Executor.

To learn more about naming a digital executor, see our article How to Choose a Digital Executor.

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