So you’re the executor (or administrator or personal representative) of a probate estate in Kentucky? One of your first steps is to open a bank account for the estate. Typically, an account opened for an estate is titled something like “Estate of Joseph Smith, Deceased, John Smith, executor.”
Getting a Taxpayer ID
In order to open an account, you’ll need to first obtain a taxpayer ID number (TIN) for the estate. This can easily be done on the IRS.gov website. You’ll need the order appointing you as the personal representative, a copy of the death certificate, and your personal information. Complete their online forms and you’ll instantly receive your TIN (be sure to print and save the PDF letter you can download at the end of the process!)
You can also obtain a TIN over by mail, but the process takes longer.
What kind of account?
This depends on what assets the deceased may have had. Usually, a checking account is sufficient. Sometimes, it can be more convenient to transfer investments to a single consolidated investment account as well if such an account also has a separate cash account with check-writing capability. When doing so, it’s important to discuss specifics with your probate attorney. There are specific tax strategies and personal finance implications to consider.
You’ll need to be able to write checks, which is why a typical checking account at the local bank is best. You’ll need to pay administrative expenses and court costs from the account and you’ll eventually distribute funds to beneficiaries from the account.
One of the most important aspects of the account is going to be record-keeping. At the end of the probate process, you’ll need to provide a formal accounting of every penny that was part of the estate and where it went. With receipts! Although that requirement may be waived, it is important that you keep a strict accounting as the fiduciary of the estate.
Recordkeeping is especially important where you may be reimbursing yourself for estate expenses, e.g., you advanced the court filing fees and attorney retainer before you were appointed. You can reimburse yourself for these expenses, but you’ll need to document exactly why you’re seeking a reimbursement.