Authority for Estate Administration

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The executor or administrator is the party tasked with handling the decedent’s estate. An executor is named in the decedent’s will. An administrator is appointed when the decedent dies without a will and is often the closet kin of the decedent. The executor or administrator will be sworn in as the person responsible for handling the administration of the estate. At that time, the Register of the Wills can provide certification regarding the executor or administrator’s authority to handle the affairs of the decedent.

Letters Testamentary are granted to executors named through a will. Letters of Administration are granted to the appointed administrator where there is no will. In either scenario, the executor or administrator may request short certificates with the seal of the court to confirm their authority to manage the estate. These short certificates are required by financial institutions to handle assets, transfer funds to estate account, close out accounts, etc. There is a cost per short certificate. It is a good idea to get several copies of the short certificate at the time you are sworn in. Additional short certificates can be acquired from the Register of Wills at a later date if necessary.