Letters Testamentary Without a Will

By Teo Spengler

Whether a person creates a will or not, her estate must be administered after her death. In either case, the court appoints someone to navigate the estate through probate and gives that person a legal document to prove her status; this document is known as letters testamentary if there is a will, and a letter of administration, if there is not.

Appointment of Executor

Many people writing a will specify who they want to be the executor to administer their estate. Generally, courts approve the person named in the will as executor, and if no executor is named, the court appoints one. The probate court issues letters testamentary to the executor to show that he has legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.

Appointing an Administrator

When the deceased leaves no will, the court appoints someone to administer the estate, called an administrator. His duties are similar to those of an executor, but the document the court issues in this case is a letter of administration. In the absence of a will, the deceased's property passes to close relatives according to the state's intestate laws.

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New York Estate Law When the Executor Dies

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What Is the Meaning of "Executor of an Estate"?

An executor is a person who manages the estate of the deceased, known as the decedent. Also called a personal representative, the executor is typically named in a will. A judge chooses and appoints an estate administrator if a decedent dies intestate, or without a will, or does not name an executor in his will. An estate administrator basically has duties and powers equivalent to an executor. Each state has individual laws regarding estates and executorships.

What Is the Meaning of Settle Estate?

A Last Will and Testament contains instructions for the distribution of a person's assets, also referred to as the estate, when he dies. The will names a specific person, known as the executor, to act as the estate's representative. The executor, sometimes referred to as the administrator, must collect the decedent's assets, pay his debts and estate taxes, and distribute his remaining assets to the heirs named in the will. This process, called settling the estate, occurs under the supervision of the state probate court.

How to File a Will & Testament in Florida

A will describes how the person writing it -- the testator -- wants his property to be distributed when he dies and nominates an executor, or personal representative, to administer his estate through the probate process. However, the representative cannot administer the testator's estate or properly distribute his assets until the will is filed with the Probate Division of the testator's local Circuit Court.

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