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Why do executors need to obtain letters testamentary?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | Probate

The difficult task of taking charge of the estate of your recently deceased family member may fall on your shoulders. If so, you will perform a number of duties as executor to close out the estate, but you should also know how to gain the authority to do so.

The state of Texas grants executors the power to act on behalf of an estate through letters testamentary.

Issuances by the court

Just because a person has died, it does not mean the executor has automatic power to take charge of the estate. A probate court must approve authority for the executor to act through letters testamentary. These documents are proof that you as executor have legal control over an estate and its assets.

Duties to fulfill with letters testamentary

There are a variety of responsibilities you will carry out as executor, and you will need to present a letter testamentary when you do so. For example, you will probably close out the bank account of your relative and open a new account for the estate. The bank will require proof that you have legal authority to do so.

Another common responsibility of executors is to sell property, usually when the will requires it. Letters testamentary prove that you can take over property titles or deeds and put the property up for sale and receive the proceeds. Additional tasks include paying the estate taxes and settling debts with creditors.

Court actions to receive letters testamentary

In Texas, an executor must file a petition to receive letters testamentary from a probate court. This will involve a hearing, during which you may present proof to the court that state law qualifies you to be executor and can have legal authority over an estate. The court could require other evidence, such as whether or not the will names you as executor.

The process may be stressful, but obtaining final approval from the court to serve as executor can put you on the road to settling the affairs of your relative and moving forward with your life.