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Can One Executor Act Without the Other

An executor is responsible for managing the estate. When a will has multiple executors, they are called co-executors. Can one executor act without the other, or do they have to work together?

It is essential to understand the rights and responsibilities you possess when you are named a co-executor on a will in New York City. This article will cover common co-executor questions asked of New York City estate attorneys.

Co-executors must work as a team when making decisions for the estate. They all hold the same authority over the estate. The court and the beneficiaries will hold each co-executor equally responsible for estate duties.

The will should contain an outline of the responsibilities that the co-executors hold. These duties are:

  • Paying taxes
  • Dealing with the deceased individual’s debts
  • Closing out administrative expenses
  • And more

Making decisions regarding these duties is the responsibility of all co-executors. Some of the decisions may already be addressed in the will.

Can joint executors act independently? One co-executor can make decisions on the estate. The law sees each co-executor as one entity, so if one co-executor acts on duty or makes a decision, it reflects as if all did the action. This does not always end up so well. It is crucial to retain a check and balance between all co-executors, as acting without the consent of other co-executors can end up in a conflict, which can end up with the court reversing the co-executor’s decision.

It is always favorable that co-executors work together to achieve a positive result in executing the duties of the estate. When this does not work out, disputes can arise. If the co-executor cannot agree on a decision, then a third-party intermediary may be necessary to draw out a final compromised conclusion. The co-executors will eventually have to agree to disagree and come up with a solution to the conflict.

If one co-executor has decided that the others did not authorize, a lawsuit may be the next step to reverse that particular action. A judge will hold a hearing for the co-executors to present their cases, and then the judge will make a decision that will favor one over the other. All co-executors will have to abide by the judge’s decision.

Having more than two co-executors can cause increased conflicts, as there must be a unanimous decision made among all executors regarding the estate. One act done by one individual co-executor, is seen by law as all executors acting upon the decision, so it’s best to have all co-executors communicate and always be in agreement, as opposed to one of the executors acting without the other.

If you are an executor who needs representation in a New York City estate matter, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.