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  Home >> Special Situations >> Deceased Individuals  
Obtaining a Letter of Testamentary

My mother passed away last July. Her estate consists of a checking account, savings account, and a safety deposit box. I want to close these accounts as soon as possible. I was initially told that I only needed the death certificate and Will, but after I obtained them, they told me that I needed a Letter of Testamentary. Where and how do I obtain this document? Is it really necessary to close her accounts?

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In some states, a bank can pay out smaller accounts of deceased customers to the next of kin. Documentation required for such a payment varies from bank to bank.

If you're in a state that won't permit such payments (or the bank holding the accounts refuses to exercise its option to pay the funds to you), the bank will only deal with a personal representative of the deceased customer's estate. Letters testamentary are court-issued documents appointing an estate's personal representative, often called an executor or administrator. To obtain letters testamentary, one applies at the county court handling estates (normally called a probate court).

Published on BankingQuestions.com 2/27/08