VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

The dangers of nominating estate co-personal representatives


Nominating a personal representative to handle your estate when you pass away is vital. He or she will be tasked with making sure your plans are carried out the way you intend and concluding any unfinished business, like taxes and debts.

However, in some situations, such as a parent with more than one child, may want to appoint more than one personal representative to handle their estate matters after they pass away.

The idea may seem simple and straightforward, but there are issues involved with appointing co-personal representatives that you should know.


Potential hurdles

Appointing two personal representatives who work together amicably can be useful, particularly with high net worth estates. However, any conflict between the two individuals could make matters worse.

The law mandates that co-personal representatives must make unanimous decisions when it comes to your estate. Generally, both must also sign titles, deeds, legal documents, and financial institution paperwork such as bank accounts. If a conflict arises, it could add additional time and stress to the probate process.

Alternatives to appointing more than one personal representative

For parents of more than one adult child, it can be difficult to decide which child would be suitable for the job.

Speaking to them about the responsibilities of the role and your wishes can help outline expectations. Perhaps you might learn that one person is more interested or adept at handling the matter than the other, avoiding the conflict altogether.

However, if after the discussion you feel that both children still wish to act as co-personal representatives, you might want to consider appointing one to act individually upon your death, and appointing the second to act as a contingent personal representative in the event your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve when you pass away. In some specific situations, choosing a neutral third party such as a local bank to act as a personal representative could avoid potential conflicts.


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