Monday, April 16, 2012
Three executors - is that a problem?
Posted by Lynne Butler
Recently I received a question from a reader mentioning that a will with which he is involved has three executors and asking whether having that number is a good idea. I take it that things are not going well,as the follow-up question was whether the lawyer who drafted the will was negligent for letting it happen. The choice of executor is always up to the customer. I believe that will drafting lawyers should talk through choice of executor with their clients and advise on any red flags that arise. I don't know whether that happened in this case. Hindsight is great. In a case where three executors aren't working out, it's tempting to say it would have been better with only one. And in a case where there was only one but that ne messed it up, it's easy to say there should have been more. This is the risk that the testator has to make,taking into consideration his lawyer's advice but also his faith inthe people he is appointing. As a general rule. I'm not in favour of having three co -executors simply because of the potential for disagreement. In some cases, a will with three executors will state that decisions must be made on a majority, rather than unanimous, basis. That helps, but doesn't prevent two of them from ganging up on the third. Whenever a testator wants to appoint three people, I'd like to know why. There are generally two answers. One is that they are trying to share the workload among the executors. The other is some variation on having the executors keep an eye on each other. It seems to me that in both of these scenarios, the testator is simply adding more names and not really adding any additional skills or abilities. Perhaps the testator who thinks he needs three people to look after his estate should be thinking about hiring a trust company, since he appears to feel that none of his available family members can handle the job.