When you have two or more children, naming a child as your executor1 can become an involved decision. Here are the key benefits and potential problems when naming one child as executor or two or more children as co-executors.


Key benefits. The process is streamlined with just one executor—there’s no need to discuss and reach an agreement on every decision. It’s also easier to make appointments with the estate lawyer and accountant. In some cases, the other child or children will be relieved that someone else will take care of the work. Potential problems. The child or children not named as an executor may feel that their sibling has been favoured. Any disagreements they might have with the executor’s administration of the estate could strain sibling relationships.


Key benefits. Children named as co-executors will appreciate being treated equally. Provided they get along well, they may prefer being able to discuss each decision. Also, if the estate is complex, the process will be much easier because the work is shared. Potential problems. If the siblings disagree on major decisions, the conflict could harm their relationship. At the very least, disagreements will slow down the process. Another problem arises if one child does most of the work and resents siblings for not contributing.


It’s helpful to communicate your intentions to your children so you can gauge whether your choice will work out. If you worry that naming a child as your executor may cause discord among siblings, you may want to consider naming your spouse, a friend, a relative or an estate professional instead.

1 Also known as an estate or personal representative, estate trustee, liquidator or administrator, depending on the province.

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