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What is a letter of testamentary?

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Quick Answer

A letter of testamentary is a legal document, sometimes written before someone's death or issued by a probate court, that gives an executor permission to distribute a deceased person's assets as proscribed in a will. A letter of testamentary, in general, allows the executor to conduct real estate sales, banking transactions and asset distribution per the permission of the court.

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Full Answer

Some court systems denote a letter of testamentary as a "letter of administration" or "letter of representation." This legal document serves as proof to banks, individuals and real estate brokers that a particular person or group is allowed to act as an executor of a will. A letter of testamentary along with a death certificate means an executor can act on behalf of a deceased person's estate.

Courts may issue a letter of testamentary as an actual letter or as a certificate. The letter of testamentary needs to be certified and sealed by a court to be official.

Sometimes companies and organizations keep the letter of testamentary on file for their own records. An executor may obtain several certified copies to distribute to appropriate entities. Upon someone's death, an executor may need go before a probate judge to obtain a letter of testamentary by producing a certified copy of a will along with a death certificate.

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