Probate Basics: Duties of the Personal Representative

The Personal Representative is the individual in charge of administering the estate.  This person is sometimes also called the Executor or the Administrator.  Here is a review of the basic duties of a Personal Representative, Executor, or Administrator as part of the probate process.

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Administering the Estate: Within 60 days of being appointed, the Personal Representative must file an inventory of the estate’s assets with the District Court.  It is up to the Personal Representative to determine what assets belong in the probate estate and what assets will pass outside of the probate estate.

Creditors: Under the law, certain creditor claims are “preferred”.  These include funeral expenses, taxes, and other debts given preference under Kentucky or Federal law.  Anyone who can provide proof of payment of a preferred claim can petition the judge to transfer part of the estate to them as a “preferred creditor” up to the amount of the paid claim.

Settling the estate:  Once the debts and taxes owed by the estate have been paid, the remaining assets can be transferred to the heirs.  The Personal Representative is required to submit a final settlement to the District Court.  The final settlement cannot be filed until at least six months from the date the Personal Representative was appointed. If settling the estate takes longer than two years, the Personal Representative will be required to submit a periodic settlement to the District Court.

Formal Settlement: A formal settlement in Kentucky requires a detailed record of all receipts and distributions along with canceled checks.  It must account for all distributions to heirs, the compensation paid to the Personal Representative, and the fees paid to the attorney.  This can be cumbersome and impractical in more complex estates.

Informal Settlement: An informal settlement in Kentucky requires each heir to sign a notarized waiver stating they received their share of the estate and they waive the requirements of the formal settlement.  The informal settlement also requires proof of distribution of any specific bequests as well as the attorney fees paid by the estate.

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