What are letters testamentary and why do I need them?
(Pictured Above: Tarrant County Probate Court)
When a person dies in Texas with a Will, the Court will look to that Will to determine who was named as the “Executor” under that Will. An Executor is simply the person who is given the responsibility of closing out the estate of the deceased person. To “close out” the estate, the Executor must notify all creditors of the deceased person, make payments from the estate to those creditors if they assert valid claims, and then distribute any remaining property to the beneficiaries listed in the Will. In order to have the authority to take all these actions, the court issues an official document called “Letters Testamentary” which gives the Executor the right to take all of these actions on behalf of the estate.
In cases where the deceased person did not have a Will, the Court will still name an “Administrator” of the estate to close out the affairs of the estate. The job duties of the Administrator are very similar to those of an Executor, but many times the actions of an Administrator are more closely watched by the court. When a Court names an Administrator of an Estate, the official document that the Court issues to that Administrator to give them the authority to take the actions necessary to close out the estate are called “Letters of Administration.”
If you are reading this article, you may have had a bank, life insurance company, or title company ask for “Letters Testamentary” or “Letters of Administration” to be able to transfer title to property into the names of the heirs or beneficiaries of a deceased person. In such an instance, you will simply need to go to Court to have these “Letters Testamentary” or “Letters of Administration” issued to you by the Court. At Cook & Gore, we can help walk you through this process to make the probate case as easy as possible on you. If you have questions about probating your loved-one’s estate, please give us a call at 214-886-7633.