In this episode of Ten Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid, Joel Beck discusses the problem of not selecting the right number of people for the job.
For example, have you ever had two bosses at one time, where they could not agree on what needed to be done, on what was most important, or on how to get something done? If so, the situation probably did not turn out very well. Simply put, having two people in charge of something can turn out poorly.
In the estate planning context, sometimes a client may assert that he or she wants to have two people serve as executor of their Will. That can create problems, as the two executors may not agree and the resulting deadlock may keep things from getting done. Or, even if they do agree on how to act, if both are named as executors, there are issues of whether they have to act jointly or can act individually, whether two signatures are required, etc. And that can slow the process down. Accordingly, in most every circumstance, we recommend against naming two people to fill the job of executor at the same time. Many times, having one person in charge with responsibility and accountability is a good thing. In some situations, however, especially when it comes to care or minor aged children, we might want to name two people to serve as guardian. For example, a married couple might be listed as guardians of the minor-aged children. While this situation may be very appropriate, it also requires some care and detail in planning, as the client may have specific desires as to whether one can serve as guardian alone if the other person dies or if the couple becomes divorced.
Another mistake to avoid is giving one person too much work to do. We see this again in the context of planning for minor-aged children, where a client may want to nominate one person to serve as both guardian and trustee. We generally caution against this as the client would then putting two jobs on one person’s shoulders, and further, it removes a layer of accountability and checks and balances. Check out the video with this blog post for a more detailed discussion on this important issue.
If you have questions about your estate plan, or have decided it’s time to get your planning done to protect yourself and your family, contact us today to discuss your situation.