Tips for an Executor of a Will

By A.L. Kennedy

As the executor of a will, you are responsible for carrying out the instructions left in the will, according to FindLaw. Your duties include paying the last debts of the estate, distributing assets to the beneficiaries and if necessary defending the legality of the will in court, according to the American Bar Association. Following a few tips for an executor of a will can help make your work easier.

Copy the Will

To open the probate estate and do your work as an executor, you will need to file the will with the probate court, according to FindLaw. Before you do so, however, it is wise to make a photocopy of the will for your personal use, since the will contains the instructions you must follow when handling the estate. Make sure your photocopy is clearly marked as a copy so that no one confuses it with the original.

Order Extra Death Certificates

The family of a deceased person and the executor of his estate receive a few copies of the death certificate as a matter of course in most states, according to FindLaw. However, since you will be required to furnish a copy of the death certificate to a wide range of places, including government offices, banks and businesses, it is wise to plan ahead and order seven to 10 extra copies, according to the American Bar Association.

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Find and Inventory Assets

Before you begin paying bills and distributing property to beneficiaries, you need to know what assets the estate has and what forms. Gather together the deceased person's bank statements, bills, insurance policies, investment paperwork and other items of value, including valuable personal property, and make a written inventory so that you know what needs to be paid and what is available to pay it, recommends FindLaw. In some states, you will be required to file this inventory with the court and/or make copies available to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Prepare Taxes

One of your duties as executor is to pay the final tax bills on the estate and any property contained in it, such as real estate. Make the tax work easier by obtaining copies of the estate's most recent tax returns and keeping track of payments made for medical bills and other deductible expenses. You may also wish to hire an accountant to advise you, especially if the estate contains a large amount of assets or is facing a heavy tax burden. In most states, you may be able to pay this accountant from the estate's assets, according to the American Bar Association.

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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.

How to Settle an Estate in Kentucky

Whether or not you leave a will, some of your estate will likely go through a settlement process called probate. Probate begins when someone files form AOC-805 with a Kentucky court, opening a case for your estate. After your court-appointed representative inventories your estate and pays your creditors, he can distribute any remaining assets to your beneficiaries. In Kentucky, probate procedures vary slightly between county probate courts, but the process is generally the same statewide.

How to Address the Executor of an Estate in a Letter

Think of your executor as the co-pilot of your assets; when you are no longer able to captain your affairs, she takes over the controls and administers the estate through probate. Many people identify the person to administer their estate in their written will. If you do so, it also makes sense to leave a letter to assist your chosen executor to locate beneficiaries, identify assets and verify debt. This kind of verbal map of your holdings enables the executor to facilitate probate and wind up your estate as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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