How do I get a certified letter of testamentary with no Will?
My brother passed away. He had cancer. His life insurance was split in half and the first half paid out early due to his terminal illness. It was placed into a bank account held by the life insurance company. They won't release it as part of his life insurance because they said it was already paid out to him. There is no will. We were told we have to get a certified letter of testamentary to designate an executor to access the money.
When a person dies and his or her Will is submitted to the court for probate, the court clerk issues a document indicating that the executor has the legal right to perform the duties and responsibilities required to settle the estate. The title of the document allowing the executor to do so is called letters testamentary. In a situation where the deceased passed away without making a valid Will (such as in your case) the document issued is known as "letters of administration"; and will be issued to the "personal representative". In order to get a personal representative appointed, a probate proceeding must be initiated (opened up) in the county where the deceased was domiciled at the time of their death. To do this the person who will act as the PR (typically a family member or close friend) submits their name for court approval along with a copy of the deceased's death certificate. The clerk of the probate court will then open a probate file for the estate. Once the PR is appointed, the letter of administration is issued. At this point, if you need further clarification, you may want to consult with a probate attorney in the area.