Reasons Why Naming Co-Personal Representatives Is A Bad Idea

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Two heads are not always better than one. 

Several clients have expressed their desire to appoint two of their children as co-personal representatives of their will. The main reason they have provided for this decision is their concern about preventing potential hurt feelings among their children. By naming both children as co-personal representatives, the clients ensure that neither child feels excluded, especially in cases where they have two children. 

Having co-personal representatives in a will can sometimes introduce complications and potential conflicts among the individuals involved. While there are situations where it may be appropriate and beneficial to have multiple personal representatives, here are 3 reasons why it might not be advisable:

     1. Communication and Consensus

Co-personal representatives must work closely together to carry out the deceased’s wishes. Effective communication and consensus on important decisions are crucial. If the appointed individuals encounter difficulties working together or coming to agreements, it can impede the smooth administration of the estate.

     2. Unequal contributions or conflicts of interest

In some cases, co-personal representatives may have different levels of expertise, availability, or commitment to their responsibilities. This discrepancy can cause friction and undermine the efficient administration of the estate. Moreover, conflicts of interest may arise if co-personal representatives have personal interests that conflict with their fiduciary duties.

     3. Decision-making delays

Co-personal representatives must jointly make important decisions regarding the estate. Disagreements or difficulties in reaching a consensus may lead to delays in carrying out required tasks and distributing assets to beneficiaries. This can prolong the probate process and create frustration for the beneficiaries.

An alternative to having co-personal representatives is naming successor personal representatives. This means appointing a backup in case the primary representative cannot serve. 

Estate planning decisions should never be made based on feelings of guilt or obligation.

This article is for educational purposes only, not to provide specific legal advice. It should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

For assistance with Maryland and D.C. wills, estate planning and probate, contact the

Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith, LLC at


Attorney Elsa W. Smith