Before you answer, picture this scene. You are sitting under a spotlight in the “hot seat,” surrounded by a crowd of onlookers masked by darkness and hearing the familiar voice of a day-time talk show host. At the conclusion of the answer, you are then offered the following selections: (A) Executrixes; (B) Executri; (C) Executrices; or (D) Executors. After making your selection, you then must declare it your “final answer.”
Well, if you answered “(C) Executrices,” you would be correct. And if you were the contestant on this game show, you would have won a lot of money, as this was actually a question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire several years ago. However, it was not a requirement that the contestant actually know what that meant!
“Executrices” is simply the plural of Executrix, which is the feminine version of Executor. So “executrices” refers to 2 or more females named in a will to serve as the estate’s representatives. When someone makes a will, he nominates an individual or individuals to administer the estate or to serve as its representative during the probate process. His, her, or their responsibilities generally include collecting and valuing assets, paying bills, signing Probate Court documents and tax returns, and distributing assets. While a family can share some of these duties, the legal obligations fall upon the Court-appointed estate representative(s) – the Executor, Executors, Executrix, or Executrices.
Although there should be no gender bias in selecting between an Executor or Executrix, there should be some consideration given when choosing between a single representative or plural representatives. You may think that naming two people as Executors (or Executrices) may be helpful, or perhaps the way to avoid making a choice, but it may prove disadvantageous. It will require multiple signatures and may result in time delays. Instead of encouraging cooperation, it may promote disharmony. In many situations, naming one lead or “legal” decision-maker does prove to be most sensible.
So, what is the plural of Executrix? Executrices, of course. You may never need to use the word, but it may win you money on a game show.
Jennifer R. Luitjens is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation, a non-profit organization accredited by the ABA. She lives in Jericho and practices in South Burlington with the Jarrett Law Office. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute comprehensive or specific legal advice. The author stresses the need to engage appropriate legal and financial professionals when devising your individual estate plan.