Typically, the days following someone’s death in Florida involve the decedent’s loved ones exchanging several phone calls and emails with different banks, financial entities, service providers, among others.
In this context, many institutions and companies may require the decedent’s loved ones to present “letters of administration” or “letters testamentary” to access the decedent’s banking files, close accounts, cancel subscriptions, and perform a wide array of tasks.
Keep reading to discover how it is possible to get this valuable document in Florida.
Why Are Letters of Administration Necessary During Probate in Florida?
Although the term “letters” may sound like a physical document, letters of administration refer to a court order designating an individual or entity as the estate’s personal representative.
Essentially, letters of administration are a statement to banks, insurance companies, utility companies, or whoever else needs to know that the personal representative has been granted authority by the court to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate and beneficiaries.
Ultimately, it is virtually impossible to execute a decedent’s estate in Florida without court-issued letters of administration in hand. In this regard, several of the multiple tasks performed by a personal representative require “letters testamentary,” such as:
- Canceling utilities and subscriptions
- Obtaining copies of creditors’ account statements
- Handling the decedent’s assets held in banks or financial management companies
- Opening a bank account exclusive to the estate
- Transferring or addressing vehicle titles/registrations
- Filing tax returns on the estate’s behalf
- Closing accounts in social media platforms
- Signing documents to transfer the assets held in the estate
How to Get Letters of Administration in Florida – An Overview
If a person dies in Florida with assets titled solely in his/her name and no designated beneficiary, his/her estate will likely undergo probate. Typically, a close relative will file for probate in court by submitting the decedent’s last will and a proper petition.
As provided by Florida probate law (Fla. Stat. §732.901 (1)), “the custodian of a will must deposit the will with the clerk of the court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead.”
Also, the custodian must provide “the testator’s date of death or the last four digits of the testator’s social security number to the clerk upon deposit.” In practice, this time limit is frequently exceeded, which is not ideal.
Upon submitting the proper paperwork (including last will as required by law), the petition to probate the decedent’s estate may be accepted by the court. Subsequently, the court will initiate probate proceedings by appointing a personal representative and issuing letters of administration.
Generally, the first order issued by the probate court will be the designation and appointment of the personal representative. In Florida, the rules applied to formal probate proceedings require the decedent’s personal representative to hire an attorney to obtain letters of administration.
In this regard, the letters of administration will be issued after the court decides who will fulfill the executor’s role – either by deferring the person named in the last will or appointing someone according to statutory preferences.
How to Get Letters of Administration in Florida – Immediately Contact Your Florida Probate Lawyer
Dealing with probate affairs is not always as easy as it may seem for untrained eyes. If you need to obtain letters of administration in Florida, waste no time with uncertainty.