Choosing who may make decisions about your assets after you die is a deeply personal process, and it’s different for every family. Selecting your personal representative doesn’t just affect the person you choose. Your choice may affect everyone connected to your will or probate estate.
Some people choose more than one personal representative. The two (or more) representatives are then called co-personal representatives. In this post, we’ll discuss what this decision means and outline the pros and cons of designating more than one person as your personal representative.
Why Choose Co-Personal Representatives?
When you set up a will, you will likely designate at least one personal representative (also called an executor). This person oversees the administration of your will and makes decisions regarding your remaining assets after you’re gone.
Technically, your personal representative doesn’t have to be a person at all; you can name an institution, like a bank, to serve as your executor. Still, most people choose a close and trusted family member or friend whom they know and trust.
You also have the option to designate co-personal representatives if you’re not comfortable with one person making all the decisions. Co-personal representatives can be ideal in certain situations — for example, if you have more than one child, or if your business will be split between multiple partners.
In Michigan, the people you name as personal representatives will need to accept the appointment in writing. Only after they accept will they have the authority to manage the estate upon your passing.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of selecting co-personal representatives:
Pros of Naming Co-Personal Representatives
Dividing the burden of probate and estate management between co-personal representatives can make the workload easier to handle, and it can also create space for discussion and collaboration. Getting insights and wisdom from multiple people may help everyone involved make better decisions.
Also, if you think that one more than one person will want to serve as your personal representative, naming co-personal representatives can provide a way to keep anyone from feeling left out.
Finally, naming co-personal representatives creates a back-up plan in case one of the people you name is unable or unwilling to take on the responsibility, or in case one person becomes incapacitated or dies.
Cons of Naming Co-Personal Representatives
Anytime you need to gather more than one person in the same place and get them to agree on something, there’s potential for complication.
Often, personal representatives need to be present and in-person when the estate bank account is opened. If the co-personal representatives have their own families and jobs or live in different areas, coordinating schedules and other logistics can be challenging.
Co-personal representatives also need to agree on their various decisions. Whether the co-personal representatives have underlying disagreements or simply can’t come to terms regarding certain aspects of the estate, the chance for conflict is always there. Depending on how complicated your estate is and how precise and comprehensive your will and estate plan are, your co-personal representatives may disagree about how exactly to honor your wishes.
Considerations When Choosing Personal Representatives
If you’re going to name a personal representative, it’s worth the effort to choose as carefully as possible for the sake of the loved ones you’ll leave behind.
Choosing the right person is easier when you’re not under pressure. It’s often recommended that people establish wills and estate plans as soon as possible, and we suggest the same for naming personal representatives.
There’s no downside to getting ahead of the decision; you can always change your mind and name someone else later. When you choose your personal representative early, you have the time and energy to think about your options. You can also discuss your decision with the people who will be affected: your spouse, business partner, children, and other close friends and family members.
Best of all, you can speak to the co-personal representatives themselves. You’ll want to confirm they’re willing to serve in the role and make sure they understand the decisions they’ll have to make.
Creating your will sooner rather than later means you won’t have to worry and scramble down the road. It also means your loved ones won’t be left with a mess if something unexpected happens to you. And if your thinking or circumstances change, you can simply update your will rather than start from scratch.
RELATED: 5 Reasons You Need a Probate Lawyer in Michigan
Contact Kari Santana for Estate Planning Services
If you’d like experienced guidance on selecting a personal representative or co-personal representatives, contact the Law Office of Kari Santana. In addition to offering practical estate planning services, we are prepared to have compassionate conversations about these deeply personal decisions. To schedule your initial consultation, call our office at (616) 717-5759 or use the quick and easy form on our website.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.