Kentucky Executor Checklist

By Dale Evans Masters

In Kentucky, the executor is the person named in a will to manage the estate of a deceased person, known as the decedent. If there is no will or no executor is named, an administrator manages the estate. The executor's or administrator's duties include paying the estate's remaining debts and distributing its assets to the heirs and beneficiaries. An executor's duties begin with locating the will.

In Kentucky, the executor is the person named in a will to manage the estate of a deceased person, known as the decedent. If there is no will or no executor is named, an administrator manages the estate. The executor's or administrator's duties include paying the estate's remaining debts and distributing its assets to the heirs and beneficiaries. An executor's duties begin with locating the will.

Opening the Probate Estate

In Kentucky, a probate estate must be opened within 10 years of the decedent's death. To open the estate, the person planning to manage the estate files the will in the probate court, along with a petition that asks the court to begin probate and confirm the managing person's position as executor. If there is no will, the same petition is filed, but it informs the court there is no will and asks for the appointment of an "administrator" instead of an "executor." Petition forms are available from the Kentucky county courts or online. In some cases, the court may require the executor to post a surety bond. The amount of the bond is determined by the court.

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Administering the Estate

Once the will is admitted to probate, the executor can begin administering the estate's financial affairs. Typically, administering an estate involves notifying the heirs and beneficiaries and publishing notice to creditors in a local newspaper of record. Creditors have six months to make claims. After determining the value of its assets and debts, the executor pays the estate's final bills and taxes. A Kentucky executor has 60 days to file an inventory of the estate's assets with the probate court from the date the probate estate opens. The inventory should list debts and each asset and its value on the date of the decedent's death. The probate court offers inventory forms, or the executor may use his own.

Settling the Estate

After the inventory is filed, the executor may begin to settle the estate by paying its bills and distributing its assets. Assets must be distributed according to the instructions in the will. Once all bills are paid and all assets are distributed, the executor must file a final settlement statement with the probate court. The court offers a form to use for the final settlement statement. The final settlement may not be filed for at least six months after the executor is appointed. If settling the estate takes more than two years, the court may require an "interim" settlement statement, describing the process the executor has made in settling the estate and the work left to be done.

Fiduciary Duty

An executor in Kentucky has a fiduciary duty to protect the value of an estate's assets and must keep the heirs and beneficiaries informed at each step of the process. If the executor fails to meet this duty and some assets are destroyed or devalued as a result, the probate court may hold the executor personally responsible for paying back the estate. An executor may be paid for his work, but payment may not equal more than 5 percent of the estate's value plus five percent of any income the executive collects on behalf of the estate.

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Does the Executor Have Authority Over the Will?

An executor is the person named in a will to administer the estate of the person who died. The executor may be a bank or trust company instead of an individual. While state law varies as to the exact duties of an executor, in general all executors must gather the estate's assets, pay creditors, then distribute remaining estate assets in accordance with the will's directives, without any discretion to deviate from the will except in limited circumstances.

The Probating of Kentucky Wills

Kentucky’s probate process is relatively simple compared to some other states. If the person named as executor in the will is the sole beneficiary, the court will accept an “informal settlement” of the estate, bypassing some probate requirements. Kentucky will also waive the final accounting of an estate if all the beneficiaries agree in writing. If someone dies without a will but his entire assets, after payment of estate expenses, are less than $15,000, the estate might also be exempt from much of the probate process.

What Happens After an Estate Has Been Probated?

Whether a person dies with our without a will, in most cases, his estate must go through the probate process. Although state probate laws vary, the probate process is fairly uniform throughout the United States. It is generally a court-supervised process for gathering the assets of the deceased, paying his creditors and taxes and then distributing his remaining assets to his beneficiaries if there is a will -- or to his heirs, according to the state's laws of intestate succession, if there is no will. During the probate process, real property owned by the deceased is retitled to his beneficiaries or heirs. To open probate and begin the process, an interested party, typically a beneficiary or heir, must file a petition with the state court that handles probate.

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