Obtain Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration.


2. Obtain Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration

Before you get in contact with institutions that a deceased person was doing business with, you’ll need to provide those companies with evidence that you have a right to wrap up the deceased’s financial affairs.

The assurance you need is in the form of documents called letters testamentary, or letters of administration.

If you hire an attorney, he or she can secure these documents for you and help you navigate probate court, among other things. For those who decide to go it alone, here’s how you get the letters testamentary.

If the person who passed away had a will and you are the executor of the estate, you can obtain letters testamentary from the local courthouse or city hall in the county where the deceased was living when he or she died. You must take the official will to the court, along with a certified death certificate, and file a probate petition.

Once the court opens a probate file and validates the will, it gives you the authority (via the letters testamentary) to carry out the duties required to settle the estate and act on behalf of the deceased, in accordance with the person’s will. (As with death certificates, be sure to get multiple certified copies of letters testamentary).

If no will was left behind, the court can issue letters of administration to a surviving spouse or next of kin after a death certificate has been supplied. In this instance, the person to whom letters of administration are issued is deemed the administrator of the estate.

Whoever is put in charge of the estate or trust should encourage open communication among the beneficiaries.

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