Don't put the fox in charge of the chicken coop.
Deciding who you appoint as the first choice of executor and substitute executor(s) can be a challenge.
The choice of a competent non-family member is always a good first choice.
That said, couples often appoint each other as each others first choice. If the surviving spouse satisfies the consideration listed below then it's a sound choice - but think through the issues before making the decision.
In all cases when it comes to appointing one or more family members there are lots of things to consider.
The most obvious issues to consider are:
1. Convenience (where are they located)
2. Skills / competence
3. Family dynamics (who likes/dislikes or trusts/distrusts who)
4. Relationship between executor and beneficiaries
Being local is an important consideration. If your first choice (or one of them) lives a long way away it can become inconvenient. If they live overseas they can't be appointed.
If you choose a child then it should be fine provided:
- the child has the skills to manage the estate,
- the child is fair minded, trust worthy and enjoys a good relationship with their siblings, and
- most importantly: you discuss with all your children who you have appointed and why, and obtain their genuine acceptance. The reason for this is that if the appointment of one of them catches the others by surprise, or they do not like your choice then disharmony will follow as night follows day. Having this conversation and gauging the response is critical.
If these three issues are addressed and you have a green like on all three then go ahead with your preferred choice of child. Alternatively, appoint more than one if each are local and these three issues are again covered off on.
Sometimes people appoint an 'incompetent' child along with competent children simply to maintain harmony and avoid anyone feeling 'left out'. This will only work if they like and respect each other and can work together. Foisting siblings who don't get on together is a recipe for disaster.
When it comes to your Enduring Power of Attorney I’d recommend (if the same three issues are satisfied) that you appoint two (or more) rather than one. The reason for this is twofold:
- it can be an onerous task so it enables the sharing of the load, and
- if there are two attorneys who have to confer with each other it helps ‘keep them honest’. I do not suggest they aren’t honest but the fact is that many children deliberately or inadvertently misuse Enduring Powers of Attorney. Although a very important document to have in place they do contribute to the growing incidence of elder financial abuse.