When an estate is supposed to be managed by two people together, they are called co-executors. How do co-executors work?
This situation could come about because a will identifies two people to manage the estate as co-executors.
If there’s no will, the family could decide that they would like two people to manage the estate as co-administrators.
This is an area that can result in a lot of confusion, and people get it wrong all the time.
Let’s cover some key ways to help avoid co-executor conflicts.
Having co-executors means having a partnership.
Under Georgia law, those two co-executors must now act as one. Whenever something must be done for an estate, those co-executors must work as a team.
Co-Executors Need To Work Together To Avoid Conflict
Let’s look at some common examples of when co-executors would need to work together in the best interest of an estate.
Let’s say we have a house that needs to be sold in an estate.
Both of our co-executors or co-administrators are going to need to sign the sale paperwork together.
If they don’t, or if one of them tries to do it without the other, that can lead to trouble because they don’t have the authority to sign that paperwork on their own.
Another example: Let’s say that our co-executors or co-administrators need to write a check to pay a vendor.
Maybe we have someone come out to do something as simple as cutting the grass on the estate property to improve the curb appeal so that we can get it ready for sale.
Under Georgia law, both of our co-executors need to sign that check because, otherwise, the check wouldn’t be valid.
One co-executor does not have the authority on their own to sign that check.
Basically any decision that would need to be made, or any action that would need to be taken, would have to be taken by both of them jointly.
That leads to an obvious question.
What happens when they don’t agree?
Often times a situation like this winds up in court.
If they don’t agree for whatever reason, then neither one of them has the legal authority to make a decision, or to move the estate in a specific direction, or write a check, or deal with an asset, or sell or gather something, or make a distribution.
Our Recommendation For Co-Executors
The best way not to mess this up is not to have co-executors at all.
At our office, we recommend against co anything. We prefer having one executor or one administrator.
But if we have a will and we’re stuck with co-executors, we want to make sure that we have a conversation up front about how this works, and we have a plan for how we’re going to make sure it works correctly.
For example, a common situation that we run into is where one or both of our co-executors are out of town or live in different states.
In that case we’re using FedEx or UPS a lot to move documents around. There’s a lot of logistics that can go into that.
- Under Georgia law co-executors or co-administrators must act together on all estate related issues.
- We recommend against having co-executors or co-administrators if possible to avoid potential conflicts.
- If the will specifies co-executors, then it’s best to sit down and have a conversation about best practices, and come up with a plan to make sure this process goes smoothly for everyone involved.
If you’d like to talk specifically about your situation, please give our office a call at (770) 920-6030. We’re happy to help.
If you would like to learn more about how to handle a co-executor situation that is not working, read our follow up article on Co-Executor Problems & How to Deal With Them.