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What Are Letters Testamentary?

When an individual names and authorizes a person known as an executor to disburse and manage the conditions of a will in the will itself, the probate court provides the executor with letters testamentary. These legal documents are instruments that allow the executor to administer the estate of the individual upon his or death and in accordance with the will of the deceased.

Also known as letters of administration, letters testamentary are issued by a probate court upon the evaluation of the deceased’s will. It is also possible that an executor receive letters testamentary without a will in order to administer the estate of the deceased. If an executor is not named in a will or if no will is produced, the probate court appoints an individual to serve as executor and he or she shall receive the letters testamentary.

The executor appears before a probate court to provide the court with information regarding the deceased’s family and beneficiaries along with the details of the estate. Such details include the overall value of the estate and what properties comprise the estate. Once the probate court has issued an executor letters testamentary, the executor provides all involved financial institutions and parties with a certified copy of the letters in order to administer the estate. These letters testamentary provide banks and other involved organizations the necessary documents and credentials verifying the identity and purpose of the executor. Thus, said executor is given access to the deceased’s estate and can disburse it according to the will.

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