What are "Letters" in a Probate?

Has a bank representative told you that you need “Letters” in order to access a decedent's bank account?


Contact me to find out if that is really necessary. Letters are only issued by a probate judge in formal probates. You may be able to access the account without a formal probate or Letters.


In a formal probate the personal representative has the authority to start gathering the assets once the Letters are issued. Most banks, financial companies and other institutions require the personal representative to show or submit Letters in order to access accounts.


There are two names for letters. “Letters Testamentary” are issued when the decedent had a will and named an executor. “Letters of Administration” are issued when the decedent did not have a will.


In both cases, the Letters are a legal document obtained from a probate court after a petition for probate is examined by a judge. As long as your petition is in order, it usually takes several weeks to receive the Letters after your petition is filed.

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