Can an Executor and Guardian be the same person in your Legal Will?

Can an Executor be the same individual appointed to be a Guardian? This is one of the main questions that often pops up when a person is creating their legal Will. First off, it’s important to distinguish between the two roles: an Executor is the person whom you appoint to disperse your assets, estate, charitable donations, handle your debts, sell off your assets, arrange for trusts, arrange funeral arrangements, and take care of all of the other duties you have listed for him/her in your legal Will. In short, the Executor (also known as a Trustee), is the person whom you have appointed in your legal Will to look after all of your stuff and to make sure that your loved ones are taken care of, with the amounts you have left behind in your estate.

A Guardian, on the other hand, is pretty much self-explanatory: this is an individual appointed by you to look after your underage children in the event of your passing. Typically, this person could be a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a trusted relative, or a close friend. There are several questions to ask yourself about appointing a Guardian for your child(ren) in your Legal Will: Is your Guardian going to outlive you? If mom and dad aren’t the best choices, would your spouse be alright with one of your siblings as a Guardian? If you appoint someone to be a Guardian, would that offend someone else? There is a laundry list of questions to consider before picking a Guardian.

Likewise, there are many things to consider when choosing an Executor: Is this person on the same page as you about your finances should be spent? Does this person have anything to gain from your assets or your estate? Can this person handle the responsibility of being an Executor? Consider writing down the pros and cons of your choices for an Executor, and your choice for a Guardian, and decide from there.

Can a Guardian and an Executor be the same individual? While individuals do at times appoint the same person for both roles, there are a host of questions to consider when going this route. For instance, can the same individual trusted to handle the finances of your estate also be trusted to look after your child(ren) and juggle both responsibilities? Does he or she have the same outlook on managing your estate and managing your child(ren)? What does your spouse think? Does your spouse want your choice of Guardian and Executor to be the same person?

Keep in mind that an Executor (much like a Guardian) may not be suited for the role later on. That person may turn down either role, or your relationship may deteriorate later on. That is why you may want to keep your legal Will updated after a certain amount of time.  Remember that as life circumstances change, so should your legal Will.