One of the most important things you will have to consider when setting up an estate plan is who will be the executor of your will and the trustee of your trust. For ease of administration it is often recommended that you name only one person to fill these roles.
Some people do not like to name just one person, especially when they have two children and they want both children to act together. Sometimes I meet people who want to name all three of their children as trustees and executors to act together. When you name two children it is difficult to settle a dispute between the two. If you name three children then majority rules and a vote can be taken to settle a dispute. In the estate of Jack Kent Cooke, the former owner of the Redskins’ football team, Mr. Cooke named seven people to act in the role of executor. Naming seven people to act in a role that is usually served by one person is very uncommon and for good reason. All documents and decisions have to be agreed upon by all seven, unless the terms of the document allow for a majority for decision making authority. The seven executors of Mr. Cooke’s last will and testament had frequent disagreements which caused unusual delay and added an additional $17,000,000 in executor fees. In the end, family members and longtime friends were pitted against each other in resolving disputes. It is difficult to get attorneys to agree on most issues, but I can say with confidence few attorneys will recommend naming seven executors to a will.
In selecting those you want to serve as executor and trustee, you can have confidence in knowing that there is oversight from the Probate Court. In addition, reporting requirements to the beneficiaries of the estate plan in the recent implementation of the Maryland Trust Act provide extra measures of security to help to ease the administration of the estate.