In Kentucky, there are simple rules for who you can choose as the executor of your estate.
Generally, they should be at least 18 years old. They must be of sound mind, meaning that they haven’t been judged incompetent by a court of law. They need to be a Kentucky resident unless they are a close relative. The executor can be a bank or trust company, as long as they are authorized to act as a fiduciary.
Other than those basics, what is necessary in an executor? First, consider the responsibilities of an executor. Their job is to settle your estate once you pass on, which means tallying up the estate’s debts and assets, paying the debts and final expenses, preparing a final income tax return and paying the taxes owed, paying any estate taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to your beneficiaries as directed by your estate plan.
Choose someone you trust with the background to handle financial matters
The No. 1 consideration when you choose an executor is honesty and integrity. Probating an estate is a complex process involving access to the estate’s finances. This could leave open opportunities for abuse by a dishonest person. Your trust in the person is more important than their credentials or how impressive they may seem.
Another crucial quality is the ability to be impartial. If you’re considering naming a friend or family member, give it some additional thought. Their ties to your beneficiaries may put them in an uncomfortable position. Your executor needs to be able to make their decisions in the best interest of the estate rather than to benefit a particular person or group.
Financial responsibility is key. Is the proposed executor good at financial matters and generally handles them responsibly? What would happen if they made a mistake that cost the estate money? Could they be held accountable? Could they cover the losses?
Make sure the person is available. Don’t choose an executor without discussing it with that person. Settling an estate can be a time-consuming process that may take a year or more to complete. Make sure the person you choose has the time and energy to handle the estate.
Knowledge of financial and tax matters is helpful. Whether you choose an individual or a professional executor, their knowledge of financial and tax issues could be crucial to the proper management and settlement of the estate. In an ideal world, any reasonably competent person would be able to handle probate. In the real world, having a trained, experienced financial manager or a lawyer can be an advantage and can maximize the value of your estate.