Letters of Administration are asked for by banks, credit unions, brokerages and other financial entities when there is no beneficiary designated on an account. A spouse or a child of the deceased cannot just go into the bank and tell the bank that the account holder has died, produce a death certificate and expect to receive the funds in the account. The financial entity will only distribute to a joint account holder, a successor or co-trustee of a trust, or a designated beneficiary on the account and even then at least 40 days must pass before any distribution will be made.
If the financial account does not designate a Trust and does not have a beneficiary designated, the bank or other financial entity will casually tell you they need administration letters or letters of administration. We often get calls from clients who simply state, “I need an appointment to get administration letters.” Take a deep breath, it is not that easy… no law firm can provide letters of administration or testamentary letters. These Letters are only issued by the Probate Court Judge after a Probate is filed. Once the Probate filing fee is paid and the Probate Petition is filed, notice is served, and so forth… months later, the Judge will issue these Letters if all appears to be in order. The issuing of the Letters is by no means the end of the probate process, the Letters just allow the Executor to begin the administration process.
The Letters Testamentary or the Letters of Administration allow the executor to take the Letters (which is a form stamped by the Probate court) in to a financial institution and claim the assets of the deceased that the financial entity is holding and deposit them into a newly created Trustee interest-bearing bank account. The assets thereafter are to be distributed only by a Court Order when the Probate is completed and the Petition for final distribution is approved.
Please know that these Letters go by many names… also referred to as Letters Testamentary or Testamentary Letters, Letters of Administration and Administration Letters, they are all referring to the Letters Form that is issued by the probate court. The Estate Planning Legal Center, APC is experienced in Probate Matters of all kinds and can assist you in securing the needed Letters in order to allow you collect on an account of a deceased account holder.
Many times we can assist you in obtaining the funds without the Letters, legally of course, by another means which utilizes an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property without Probate. For more information please call for an appointment: (858) 560-0776.