Can One Co-Executor Act Independently?

When a will has multiple executors, they are called co-executors. The question is, do they have to work together or can each co-executor act independently?

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.

Do Co-Executors Need to Work Together

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.

Decision Making as a Co-Executor

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 One Co-Executor Make a Decision Independently?

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.

How to Handle Disputes Between Co-Executors

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.

Recourse For Co-Executor Who Acted Independently in a Disagreeable Way

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 respective 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.

Conflicts Among Multiple Co-Executors

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 independently 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.

If you are an executor or a beneficiary who needs representation in a New York City estate matter, you can send us an email at [email protected] or call us at 212-233-1233.

Attorney Albert Goodwin

Law Offices of
Albert Goodwin, PLLC
31 W 34 Str, Suite 7058
New York, NY 10001
[email protected]