Are an executor and co executor the same?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What are the differences between an executor and co executor?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

If two people are named in a will as co-executors, there is no difference between their rights and responsibilities. They are both charged with the legal duty of accounting for and managing the willmaker’s property at death and for distributing it as the will directs.

The part that sometimes becomes thorny is that as co-executors, they must agree whenever discretionary decisions are required, such as when to sell a home and how much to accept for it.

However, if the will names one executor, and another person to act as alternate, then the alternate is empowered to act only if the first person is unable or unwilling to be the will’s executor when the time comes.