Multiple Executors Of A Will Australia: What You Need to Know About Co-Executors

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Having multiple executors for a will in Australia is possible. Having more than one executor can balance skills and perspectives, ensuring continuity if one executor is unable or unwilling to act. 

However, it’s important to note that all executors must act jointly and agree on decisions, which can sometimes lead to complications if they disagree. 

Careful selection and clear communication among executors are essential for smooth estate administration.

Also read: 6 Points You Need to Know About Estate Law in Australia

What are the Benefits of Having Multiple Executors of a Will?

There are several benefits to having multiple executors of a will in Australia. These include:

  • Shared workload and responsibility: Administering an estate can be time-consuming and complex. Having multiple executors can help to share the workload and make it more manageable.
  • Checks and balances: With multiple executors, there is a built-in system of checks and balances. This can help to reduce the risk of fraud or mistakes.
  • Different skills and expertise: Multiple executors can bring different skills and expertise to the table. This can be helpful in dealing with complex estate matters.
  • Continuity of administration: If one executor cannot act, the other executors can continue administering the estate. This can help to avoid delays and disruptions.
  • Reduced stress and burnout: Administering an estate can be a stressful experience. Having multiple executors helps reduce the stress on each individual executor.

In addition to these general benefits, there are also specific benefits to having multiple executors in certain situations. For example, if the estate is large or complex, having multiple executors can help to ensure that the estate is administered efficiently and effectively. 

Additionally, if the estate’s beneficiaries are located in different parts of the country, having multiple executors can help ensure that the estate is administered fairly and that all of the beneficiaries are kept informed.

Of course, there are also some potential drawbacks to having multiple executors. For example, getting multiple executors to agree on decisions can be more difficult. Additionally, it can be more expensive to have multiple executors, as each executor is entitled to be paid a fee for their services.

Ultimately, whether or not to have multiple executors is a personal decision. There are benefits and drawbacks to consider, and the best decision for one person may not be the best for another.

Also read: How to Make an Advance Health Directive in QLD

How Do Multiple Executors of a Will Make Decisions?

Can co-executors act independently?

Multiple executors of a will must act jointly in making decisions that affect the estate. This means they must all agree on a course of action before it can be taken. 

However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Majority Rule: A majority of the executors may be able to make a decision that binds all of the executors. This is known as the majority rule. For example, if there are three executors and two of them agree to sell a property, the sale can proceed even if the third executor disagrees.

Casting Vote: The will may give one of the executors a casting vote. This means that if the executors cannot reach a unanimous decision, the executor, with the casting vote, can make the final decision.

Court Approval: If the executors cannot reach a decision on their own, they may apply to the court for approval. The court will then consider the arguments of each executor and make a decision that is in the estate’s best interests.

Dispute Resolution: If there is a dispute between the executors, they may seek mediation or arbitration to resolve the dispute. These are alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods that can help the executors reach an agreement without going to court.

Preventing Disagreements

There are a number of things that can be done to prevent disagreements between executors. These include:

  • Choosing executors who are compatible and have good communication skills.
  • Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each executor in the will.
  • Requiring the executors to keep detailed records of their actions.
  • Establishing a dispute resolution process in the will.

Seeking Professional Help

If the executors have difficulty making decisions or resolving disputes, they should seek professional help from an estate planning lawyer.

Can Multiple Executors Be Removed From A Will?

Yes, under certain circumstances, multiple executors can be removed from a will in Australia. The grounds for removing an executor include:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty: An executor has a fiduciary duty to act in the estate’s best interests. If an executor breaches this duty, they may be removed from the will.
  • Incapacity: If an executor can no longer carry out their duties, they may be removed from the will. This could be due to mental incapacity, physical incapacity, or imprisonment.
  • Misconduct: If an executor engages in misconduct, such as fraud or theft, they may be removed from the will.
  • Negligence: Since an executor can be paid for their time and effort, negligence in carrying out their duties may have them removed from the will. This could be due to failure to manage the estate assets properly or failure to distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries.
  • Conflict of interest: If an executor has a conflict of interest that prevents them from acting impartially, they may be removed from the will.

The application to remove an executor from a will must be made to the Supreme Court of the state or territory in which the deceased person resided. The court will consider the evidence presented and decide based on what is in the estate’s best interests.

If an executor is removed from a will, the remaining executors will continue administering the estate. The court will appoint a new executor if there are no remaining executors.

Also read: Binding Death Benefit Nomination Advantages and Disadvantages

Estate Planning with Multiple Executors at Walker Pender

A client approached Walker Pender’s Estate Lawyers for assistance in appointing multiple executors for her will. She expressed a strong desire to instill the value of collaboration in her children. By assigning them as co-executors, she aimed to encourage them to work together harmoniously in managing her estate. This decision was deeply rooted in her belief that joint decision-making would honor her legacy and ensure that her hard-earned assets are handled with careful and collective consideration. She viewed this as a final, meaningful lesson in unity and cooperation, offering her peace of mind for the future.

Can There Be Multiple Executors of a Will Australia?

Are you considering appointing multiple executors for your will in Australia? Let Walker Pender guide you through this important decision. Our team understands the complexities and benefits of shared executorship. We’re here to ensure that your final wishes are fulfilled efficiently and harmoniously by those you trust. Contact Walker Pender today for expert advice and support in making your estate planning smooth and stress-free. Your peace of mind is our priority.

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