The Need-To-Know: Obtaining Preliminary Letters of Administration

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Regardless of whether or not someone is listed as the executor of an estate in a will, they don’t officially have that designation until the Surrogate’s Court provides it.  While they wait for that designation, the executor can’t carry out any of their duties.  Usually this isn’t a problem.  However, when the Surrogate’s Court encounters a delay, it can lead to trouble.

What Can Cause a Delay?

The Surrogate’s Court may take time to designate the executor of an estate in a number of different circumstances.  The witnesses to the will or the decedent’s heirs may be difficult to locate or there may be something in the estate that requires other immediate attention before probate can progress.  The biggest delay however, is caused by a contested will.  This can take years to clear up.  That means unpaid taxes and a lack of maintenance that can drastically reduce the value of the estate.  However, there is a way to ensure that the estate is taken care of during the delay.

What’s a Preliminary Letter?

A preliminary letter is a document that the executor named in the will can request either while starting probate or at any point during a delay.  If the Surrogate’s Court accepts the request, it will grant the individual many of the powers of a designated executor of an estate while they wait for probate.  They will be able to pay debts and collect and sell any assets that aren’t explicitly stated as going to a beneficiary.  By filing for a preliminary letter the executor can fulfill the responsibilities of their position even before they’ve officially been handed that position.

Filing for a preliminary letter, and knowing when to do so, pose a challenge.  If you want to ensure that probate goes smoothly and the deceased’s estate is protected, then you need the assistance of a legal team that is proficient in all estate planning matters.  At Morgan Legal Group we are honored to be considered one of the best legal teams in New York and we excel at matters relating to probate and all areas of estate planning.  Get in touch with us and find out how we can put our skills to use for you.