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How Can I Act as Executor before Letters Testamentary have been Granted to Me?

Once a will has been found and the named executor files a petition for probate, Letters Testamentary will be granted. How long this process will take, however, varies based on a number of factors, such as the existence of a will contest or finding necessary parties who need to be cited. During this waiting period, there may be certain acts necessary to maintain the estate. However, without Letters Testamentary, the nominated executor lacks the power to take any action.

In order to preserve assets, pay estate debts, and make investment decisions during this waiting time, a nominated executor can make an application for Preliminary Letters. The nominated executor is the only person who can make such an application. The Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act allows for Preliminary Letters to be issued in probate proceedings where a nominated executor has offered a will for probate so he can take certain actions to protect the assets of the estate and maintain the estate while waiting for Letters Testamentary to be granted.

If a will does not nominate an executor, an interested party can still make a petition, however not for preliminary letters. Rather, the interested person would petition for appointment as temporary administrator. While this gives the interested person the power to do basically the same thing as the nominated executor, the main difference between a temporary administrator and nominated executor is that often the latter does not have to file a bond unless it says so in the will.

To discuss your role as executor, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774.