Coughlin & Gerhart LLP
Call Today: 800-646-3420
Coughlin & Gerhart LLP
What role do testamentary letters play in estate administration?

What role do testamentary letters play in estate administration?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2023 | Estate Planning, Probate And Estate Administration

Being an estate executor in New York requires an enormous amount of responsibility. Executors take care of the financial responsibilities involved with the estate. Before an executor can handle these responsibilities, they must obtain a letter of testamentary.

Roles of an executor

In order to understand what a letter of testamentary does, you should understand what part of the probate and estate administration that an executor does. Their duties include:

  • Notifying beneficiaries
  • Conducting an inventory of assets
  • Paying bills and expenses
  • Taking care of taxes
  • Providing distribution of assets to beneficiaries
  • Giving receipts to the probate court

Defining a letters testamentary

Despite the name, letters of testamentary are not actual letters. Instead, the document is an authorized court order. The document allows the court to grant you the ability to act as the exectuor of the estate.

Preliminary letters of testamentary

In certain circumstances, you may need access to the estate immediately. In these instances, you can petition for preliminary letters of testamentary. These grant executor powers on a temporary basis and allow an executor only to perform limited duties. A common example of a need for preliminary letters of testamentary is the selling of declining stocks.

Obtaining a letters of testamentary

The county Surrogate’s Court oversees the issuing of a letters of testamentary in New York. The filing must occur in the same county that the deceased individual claimed as a residence.

The steps involved in obtaining a letters of testamentary include:

  • Filing the deceased’s will and death certificate
  • Petitioning for probate
  • Attending a court hearing
  • Pay relevant court filing fees

The process to obtain letters of testamentary can take up to five weeks. If you include invalid information or the petition is challenged, you may spend months in court in an attempt to obtain a letters of testamentary.