Why are letters testamentary part of probate?
Your loved one has passed away, and now comes the process of going through probate in South Carolina to distribute assets to the heirs. You may have thought you understood the probate process, but now you face getting letters testamentary before you can do anything else.
What are letters testamentary?
Letters testamentary is one of the initial steps in the probate process, which generally begins with a will’s executor or an estate custodian submitting a decedent’s will to the probate court. After a judge determines that the will is valid, the executor must obtain the letters testamentary. They’re also called letters of administration. The probate court will issue them to you as they give you the legal authority to distribute the estate.
South Carolina courts will also require you to obtain a probate bond before continuing with the probate process. Probate bonds protect heirs from negligence, fraud, theft, or misrepresentation by an executor when administering the estate. Often, the decedent’s Will specifies the amount of the probate bond. If it isn’t, the court will set an amount.
Why do you need letters testamentary
As the personal representative of an estate, you frequently deal with banks, brokerages, and other financial institutions after opening the estate. Paying your loved one’s debts is part of the process and must be settled first. Many financial institutions and government agencies require you to present certified copies of letters testamentary before you can settle your loved one’s debts.
During this time, you have other duties to discharge, including notifying all heirs of your loved one’s passing and what assets they are entitled to receive. Remember that larger estates can take longer to settle, especially if you have difficulty finding any heirs.