Before Court Appointment
Probate may take months to complete, depending on the circumstances of the case. An estate must remain open for at least six months in Kentucky. The executor named in the will doesn't receive authority until the will is admitted to record, and the executor files a bond and takes an oath in the court in which the record is made. However, Kentucky law gives the executor the right to take some actions before his formal court appointment. He is allowed to arrange for the deceased's burial, pay funeral expenses and protect the estate's property. For example, if the deceased owned a home, the proposed executor may take steps to safeguard the home against theft or vandalism. Since the executor has no authority at this point, he can't access estate assets to pay expenses without a court order. A proposed executor who pays expenses for the estate may receive reimbursement during the settlement process.
An executor in Kentucky is entitled to payment for his services on behalf of the estate. State laws limit the executor's compensation to 5 percent of the value of the deceased's total estate and 5 percent of the amount of the total income the executor collected for the estate. If the executor proves he performed services for the estate that aren't normally required of an executor, the court may give him additional money. An executor who handled property that wasn't part of the deceased's estate in probate, but was included in her estate for federal and state tax calculations, may also ask the court for extra money.
A proposed executor may refuse to serve and an appointed executor may resign in Kentucky. State law doesn't require the executor to give a reason. If the executor has already acted for the estate, he usually has to file an account with the probate court that shows what he's done to get a formal release. If the will named an alternate executor, the court may appoint that person to act. The court appoints an administrator with the will annexed if the will didn't name an alternate executor or the alternate can't serve; an administrator with the will annexed has the same rights and powers as an executor.
Kentucky law allows a minor to act as an executor only if the will directs a named minor may act as an executor. The minor still must meet other court requirements for executors; for example, he must file a bond with the court to insure against loss to the estate because of his actions. A proposed executor who owed a debt to the deceased person doesn't have a right to debt forgiveness because he was named executor. Kentucky doesn't wipe out the debts of an executor to an estate unless the will states the executor's debt is forgiven.