The last part of this application to determine heirship and the application for independent administration is the request for issuance of letters testamentary.
What are The Letters Testamentary?
These are court certified letters that say that you have been appointed as the executor of your beloved's estate and that you have the authority to do anything that he or she could do if she were alive.
So therefore, you could take this letters testamentary and you could go to the bank and get that money out and put it in an estate account. You have the authority to list property with a realtor so that property can be sold. You have the authority to enter into leases. If there's real estate that you all agree that you don't want to sell, nobody wants to live in the house but it's good rental income, you'll have the authority to do that.
So here again, the letters testamentary are very important because they give you the authority to act on the behalf of the decedent.
Think of it as a Power of Attorney.
A power of attorney is what you would have if a person is still alive. But if they're deceased and they properly go through this probate proceeding, the letters testamentary help you or give you the authority to do anything that the decedent could have done if he or she were alive.
And it's also important if there was a lawsuit that was pending before your loved one died, as it also lets you be the representative to participate in that lawsuit. Or maybe your loved one was in a mass tort or class action and the case is ready to be settled, but they can't pay your loved one out because they're deceased, but you give them your letters testamentary. Then they would have to pay it to you because you're the executor of the estate. You would collect that money and you would make the distributions to the heirs in accordance with the judgment that determines the heirs and their representative shares.