When you make a Will, you must appoint an executor whose role it is to ensure your estate is administered in accordance with your Will and your wishes are carried out.
Many will makers with more than one child, appoint all of their children as joint executors in an attempt to prevent any of their children feeling left out or less important. While the will maker may have the best intentions, the appointment of more than one executor can lead to problems and delays with the making of the Application to the Supreme Court for Probate and ultimately with the distribution of estate assets.
This is particularly the case when executors do not get along and have difficulty working cooperatively together, which may occur when there are fractured relationships between siblings. The period of making application for probate can be a highly emotional and stressful time, and those appointed as executors may still be grieving and trying to manage their own emotions.
Executors may be required to make particular decisions such as the sale of the family home, and other valuable assets and the distribution of personal items sentimental to the deceased and their family.
Problems can arise in situations where beneficiaries disagree with one executor, and go to another to lobby support. A common misconception is that ‘majority rules’, however, this is not the case and joint decisions must be made by the executors unless the will specifies otherwise. If agreement cannot be reached between Executors, they may need to make application to the Court for guidance, a ruling in relation to a particular issue or even to have an executor removed.
The best way to avoid disagreements is for will makers to think carefully about who they appoint as executors. They should consider appointing one executor and a substitute executor if their primary appointee becomes unwilling or unable to do the job.
To avoid a situation where your appointed executor has died or lost capacity and there is no one to act when you die, it is important to review the terms and appointees in your Will regularly to ensure this does not happen.