An executor or administrator of an estate may not simply jump in and begin distributing assets and funds the moment a person passes on. They must first apply for the legal right to administer the estate. Validating the will or verifying that the estate will be administered per intestacy laws is the purpose of the probate process, as is verifying an executor’s qualifications. The executor or administrator receives a Letter of Testamentary when probate is complete. 

What is a Letter of Testamentary?

A Letter of Testamentary is a court order allowing the executor to proceed with the estate. An executor may present the letter to financial institutions, insurance companies, the Texas DMV, and other entities to gain access to the assets they will need to sell or distribute. It can also help the executor access debt accounts so they may be paid off. 

Obtaining a Letter of Testamentary is only possible if the decedent had a will. If the decedent died without a will, an heir can apply for a Letter of Administration instead, serving much the same purpose. 

Where can one obtain a Letter of Testamentary?

First, you must determine that you are an eligible person. 
Then, you must apply to the statutory probate court. 
Here in Houston, that would be:

The Probate Department
Harris County Civil Courthouse
201 Caroline, Suite 800
Houston, TX 77002

As your Texas Probate lawyers in Houston, we’re equipped to handle this application for you to maximize your chances of success. We can help you move smoothly through the process so that you can get on with the business of administering the decedent’s estate.  

Who is eligible to receive a Letter of Testamentary?

You can only obtain a Letter of Testamentary if you are the named executor in the will. 

If the named executor dies or is otherwise unavailable, the court will determine who should serve as an executor. It’s usually good practice to name alternate executors in your will so that this situation does not arise.

If no alternates exist, the court may consider a family member who is not an heir or a disinterested third party like an estate attorney. 

How long does it take to receive a Letter of Testamentary?

You’ll usually receive a Letter of Testamentary within 30 days of filing for probate, so long as there are no disputes. Disputes cause delays and are best avoided if possible.

Working with a firm like ours can help minimize the potential for disputes, especially meritless ones. 

How much does it cost to obtain a Letter of Testamentary?

In Harris County, you’ll pay $360 to probate a will. The process is not nearly as expensive or as burdensome as some make it out to be, especially if you’re working with a firm like ours. 

What is a Letter of Testamentary without a will? 

The document you would receive is called a Letter of Administration. It serves roughly the same purpose, save that it is given to a court-ordered administrator who would execute the will in accordance with Texas intestacy law. 

Need a Letter of Testamentary? 

If you’ve been named as the executor of a will and need to launch the probate process, turn to The Probate Law Group. We can simplify the process and provide you with the guidance you need to make the execution of the decedent’s will as smooth a process as possible.