Being named as the executor (sometimes referred to as a personal representative) of someone’s estate in Kentucky or elsewhere can certainly be considered an honor. It typically goes to someone who is reliable, trustworthy, has integrity and is adept at dealing with family members who are still adjusting to the painful reality of a loved one’s death.
You should also be aware that the role entails significant responsibilities that must be carried out in a timely manner. Careful attention to detail is required, as is doing everything in complete accordance with state law. Doing some research and record-keeping as needed may be necessary. The task can potentially take up a great deal of your time and energy, depending on the size and complexity of the estate, in addition to other circumstances.
An executor has a great deal of authority, but that authority is not unlimited. The executor is required to do everything “in the best interest of the estate at all times.” This is especially important as a safeguard against a potential conflict of interest if the executor is among the deceased’s beneficiaries.
The duties of an executor
There are numerous tasks to be handled by an executor. Among them are the following:
- Makes sure that the wishes of the deceased person are handled according to his or her written instructions
- Obtains a copy of the person’s death certificate
- Sometimes handles funeral arrangements
- Ensures that the will is filed with the probate court if the state mandates it
- Sees that the deceased person’s assets go to their heirs
- Needs to notify the appropriate institutions and agencies as necessary — for example, the person’s bank, the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Social Security Administration
- Takes care of filing the person’s tax returns
- Pays debts and deals with creditors
Being an executor entails many responsibilities and can be complicated. Be sure you understand what you have to do. Get advice if you have questions or encounter problems.