What is a Letter of Testamentary? Florida vs. New York

EPGD Law Trusts and Estates

What is a Letter of Testamentary in Florida?

Upon a person’s passing, their estate is to be divided appropriately. When the late person has a valid will, the personal representative or executor of the estate will then come in to distribute the assets in accordance with the wishes stipulated in the will.  Nevertheless, Florida courts specifically, will not allow the personal representative to distribute assets until he or she has been given a letter of testamentary by the court.

As a personal representative or executor of one’s estate, you must first attend the local probate court to file and obtain a letter of testamentary. With you, bring a copy of the will and death certificate of the deceased. If the estate is rather smaller in size, you may file a small estate affidavit. However, Florida in particular, does not have a small estate affidavit process, so an attorney will have to assist in gaining control of these assets for you. The letter of testamentary process is to essentially make a showing that you are the person appointed in the will and are of sound mind and able to conduct your fiduciary duties with regard to the estate.

Once the court has verified that you are qualified to serve as the executrix of the estate, the letter of testamentary will then be issued. This is rather important as many financial institutions, for example, will not allow access to funds of the deceased without a letter of testamentary obtained from the court.

What is Letters Testamentary in New York?

Letters Testamentary is a document issued by the Surrogate’s Court in New York that allows a person to act on behalf of the estate of the deceased. Just like in a Florida estate, in order to receive the Letters Testamentary, you would need to file a petition the Surrogate’s Court containing information about the decedent, interested parties to the estate and the assets subject to probate.

What is Disposition Without Administration in Florida?

There are instances where letters testamentary are not appropriate, because the assets in the estate equate to very minimal value. In this case, you may resort to what is known as disposition without administration. This is an informal probate proceeding used to request assets of the deceased to cover funeral costs and/or medical expenses. There is minimal paperwork for this process which means the time frame for completion is usually quicker. Your attorney may assist you with this by filing in the appropriate court and paying the corresponding filing fees.

What is an Affidavit of Voluntary Administration in New York?

New York Surrogate’s Court has a small estate administration that may be applicable in estates that do not involve a large amount of assets. You would need to file an Affidavit of Voluntary Administration (also known as a Small Estate Affidavit). In a small estate proceeding, the court will name a Voluntary Administrator who will collect and distribute the NY assets under the law.

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Kathrine Karimi


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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