Appointing Co-Personal Representatives is a Potential Recipe for Trouble

By: David A. (Andy) Hall, Esq. – Elville and Associates, P.C.

Ask your estate planning attorney whether you it is advisable to appoint co-personal representatives. Co-personal representatives are two (or more) people named as personal representative simultaneously.  Successor personal representatives are named as backups in case your first choice is unable to serve whether by reason of death, incapacity or unwillingness to serve. You should always name at least one successor personal representative, but two is preferable.

In a co-personal representative situation, Maryland law by default requires the concurrence of all personal representatives in order to act on behalf of the estate. This can lead to issues with the practical aspects of managing the estate, or it can create a friction point in an already tense family situation.

You should consider the motivations for wanting co-personal representatives. If you think that one person might not be able to handle the job alone, you are probably better off appointing someone else altogether. In general, one person will end up doing the majority of the work, but will be hampered by seeking the concurrence/assent of the other personal representative.

If there is a family issue, you can always appoint someone outside of the family. When there is a family dynamic where there is distrust, estrangement, or other issues, then the appointment of co-personal representatives may only serve to exacerbate the situation.

In short, appointing co-personal representatives can lead to unnecessary delay, arguments, or even litigation. It is best to name one trusted individual to serve as personal representative, and name at least one trusted successor. Help avoid estate and trust litigation before it ever happens by contacting your estate planning attorney. Make sure your attorney can competently guide you through not only proper tax planning and asset protection, but also provide counsel to avoid litigation before it starts.

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