Why I Refuse to be the Co-Executor of Your Will

My friend “Diane” has a terminal illness but has managed to outlive all of her immediate family and most of her friends.

That’s one of my biggest nightmares: to be the last one left standing. In a nursing home. But I digress …

Diane asked if I would be co-executor of her will. The other co-executor would be her cousin Phil. I’ve never met Phil. Didn’t even know he existed. He lives 1000 miles away. I might meet him some day. Perhaps at Diane’s funeral.

“Diane,” I said, “I would do anything in the world for you. I will be your executor.  I will file all the paperwork, make sure that your beneficiaries get their stuff, sell your house, and find a good home for your dog. I will respect your last wishes to be cremated and will scatter your ashes wherever you choose.”

“But I will not share that task with anyone.”

I won’t be your co-executor

It’s just asking for trouble.

“Oh, but Phil is very nice, educated, and reasonable,” she told me. “He is wealthy. I’m sure it will be no problem. And he needs your help because he lives so far away.”

No. Pick me or pick him. I don’t care. But don’t make us both legally responsible.

We will disagree about “what Diane would have wanted.” He has the advantage of being a blood relative; I’ve spent more time with her during her final years.

Two people who have never met cannot share this critical task for the person they love in common.

And two people who know each other well should not be co-executors. Even more potential for trouble. Especially if one or both will inherit.

Pick a back-up executor

You do need to name a “back up” or contingent executor in case something happens to your first choice (like they die and you forget to update your will).

Choose one executor. Choose them wisely. Don’t add to their misery by making a difficult task harder.

Is your will up to date? Who is your executor? Did you name 2 or more co-executors?

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