What are Letters Testamentary?

An individual who has been named as a personal representative or executor in a will has a number of important duties. These include gathering the deceased person’s property and transferring it to the beneficiaries through a court-supervised process known as probate. In order to initiate this proceeding, the executor must first obtain what are referred to as Letters Testamentary. In Wisconsin, they are called Domiciliary Letters. This document gives the executor the legal authority to administer the deceased person’s estate.

While the process varies from state to state, the executor must petition the probate court in the county in which the decedent lived. The application includes a sworn statement that the person has been named as the executor in the will, as well as an estimate of the estate’s property and debts.

The Letters allow the executor to collect the assets of the deceased which may be held by an institution such as a bank. Since banks and other institutions may want to keep the document on file, it is necessary to obtain multiple certified copies. The executor can also carry out his or her other duties such as inventorying and appraising assets, paying debts, and transferring property to beneficiaries, according to the terms of the will.

Posted in: Estate Planning, Family Planning, Probate