When a person with measurable assets dies, someone will need to be appointed as a personal representative to settle the decedent’s estate. This process called “probate” involves collecting assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets according to the terms in the will or according to the law which applies when a person dies without a will.
When a person creates a will, a personal representative called the “executor” is named in the will to manage the decedent’s estate. When the testator passes, the first step is to locate the decedent’s original will and then file a petition using a form AOC-805, which asks the District Court judge to admit the will to probate and appoint an executor or administrator (if there is no will). Both executors and administrators handle the financial affairs of the deceased and are referred to as personal representatives.
Once the executor has been appointed by the court, it will be his or her duty to take over the decedent’s assets and to manage and protect those assets. Under Kentucky law, the personal representative owes the highest good faith to the creditors and heirs of the estate and must act accordingly. Within 60 days of the executor’s appointment, they must file an inventory of the estate’s assets with the District Court and it must list the value of the decedent’s assets at the time of death. The executor’s duties also include the following:
- Collect and value estate assets
- Pay debts and settle claims against the estate
- Manage estate property
- Collect rents, income, etc. for the estate
- Pay any income or death taxes owed by the estate
- Distribute remaining assets of the estate to the heirs
- File periodic reports with the probate court
- File a final settlement with the court
Both executors and administrators are appointed by the court and are accountable to it. Personal representatives may be required to file periodic reports with the court and to file a final settlement showing what funds came into the fiduciary’s hands and how those funds were spent. The court reviews all such reports to ensure that the personal representative has done their job ethically and properly. The court can hold the executor or administrator personally responsible if the funds have not been handled in accordance with Kentucky law. Furthermore, the court can remove a personal representative if they do not comply with their duties or if they have not complied with the orders of the court.
Have you been appointed as an executor?
Have you been appointed as an executor or administrator of a Kentucky estate? If yes, we urge you to contact an Elizabethtown probate attorney from Cooper & Cooper Law Offices. Our father and son team possesses over 40 years of combined experience. We are extremely familiar with Kentucky probate laws and would be glad to guide you through the probate process and assist you in your fiduciary responsibilities.