When people ask us “do letters testamentary expire in New York,” we want to see a copy of the letters testamentary. If there is no expiration date on it, then they do not expire. Essentially, most letters testamentary can last forever. Look at an example of letters testamentary – there is no expiration date on it.
With many courts in New York, one for each county, rules may vary from court to court. Circumstances can also vary from case to case. So you sometimes do have letters that expire, but that’s an exception rather than the rule.
Most letters testamentary don’t expire, but when a bank is conducting a transaction, their policy is usually to see a recent Certificate of Appointment of Executor from the court confirming that your letters testamentary are still in effect. They do this to make sure that nothing changed in your case, that your letters are not revoked and that you are still in good standing with the court regarding compliance, bonding, accounting, reports or any other issues. Banks call this a “fresh Certificate.” You can see an example of a Certificate:
To get a new certificate, you just have to go to the court that issued the letters testamentary, see a clerk in the cashier’s department, pay six dollars and they will issue a new certificate.
We’ve recently had a situation in the Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court, where the letters testamentary did not expire on its face but the clerk told us that we have to apply for an extension because it’s been more than six months. So for some applications, it may be necessary to extend letters testamentary even though they did not have an expiration date.
Because each situation is different, ask your New York estate lawyer what is the best way to proceed in your case.