What to Expect From the Executor of the Will After Someone Dies?

By A.L. Kennedy

The executor or personal representative of a will is responsible for wrapping up the estate's affairs according to the will's instructions. After someone dies, the executor becomes responsible for the estate, and usually must report to the probate court. You can expect the executor to file the will with the court, manage the estate's assets, pay the estate's bills and distribute the remaining estate assets to the beneficiaries.

Filing the Will

The executor's first step is usually to file a copy of the will with the probate court. This action opens the probate process. Along with the will, the executor may file a petition for letters testamentary, which is an official court document that gives the executor the power to speak directly to the estate's creditors, handle the estate's bank accounts and take similar actions necessary to probate the estate, according to the American Bar Association.

Inventory the Estate

In order to fulfill his duties to pay creditors and distribute the estate, the executor is required to inventory the estate to determine the amount of assets it has, according to FindLaw. In most states, the executor is required to file a copy of the inventory with the probate court and to give copies of the inventory to the beneficiaries. The executor may hire professionals like an accountant, attorney or appraiser to help him determine the value of the estate's assets, if necessary, and may pay for the professionals' help with the estate's assets.

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Pay the Estate's Debts

The executor is also responsible for paying any outstanding bills or debts the estate has. In order to do this, the executor is expected to contact any known creditors and also to notify any unknown creditors by placing an ad in the newspaper or by whichever other means the state's probate laws permit, according to FindLaw. State probate laws typically give creditors a certain time limit in which to present their bills to the estate. The executor must wait out this time limit to ensure all bills have reached the estate before proceeding to distribute the estate's assets. The executor must also settle the estate's final tax matters, and may hire an accountant at the estate's expense to do so.

Distribute the Estate's Assets

Once all the bills are paid, the executor must distribute the estate's assets according to the rules laid out in the will. Distributing assets may include giving particular items, like furniture and jewelry, to specific people named in the will. It may also involve giving certain amounts in cash to certain people or charities named in the will. In order to distribute the estate's assets according to the will's requirements, the executor may liquidate certain assets, like stock, if necessary, according to FindLaw.

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Executor Duties & Rights in Handling a Will
 

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Kentucky Executor Checklist

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.

Administrator vs. Executor in a Probate

Executors and administrators have much of the same job. Each must guide a decedent's estate through the probate process, making sure his creditors receive notification of his death and payment of his debts, and ensure the estate's remaining assets pass to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries.The major difference between the two positions is in the way each receives appointment. Both are representatives of the estate and of the court. They’re duty-bound to act in the best interests of the decedent and to follow the letter of the law.

How Are the Estate Settlement Costs Determined?

No matter how straightforward an estate seems, family members will likely have to go through a probate process in state court before the estate’s assets can be distributed to heirs and beneficiaries. If the costs involved in probating your estate outweigh its assets, your estate may be declared insolvent and your beneficiaries may inherit nothing. State laws determine the precise probate process for estates within their borders and settlement costs may vary among states.

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