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Letters of Administration

What is a Letter of Administration?

A letter of administration is a brief, one page document issued by the county clerk which simply states that the person identified in the letter is currently serving in the capacity of administrator or administratrix of an estate of deceased person who died without a will (or who died with a will which did not provide independent administration) which is being probated under the docket number and court also identified in the letter.  In Harris County the county clerk may actually issue a letter of administration to the administrator or administratrix on the same day of the court hearing after any required bond is filed with the court (but it will require a second trip to the court house late in the afternoon to file any required bond, and then to pick up the letters). But most individuals choose the mailing option, and the letters of administration will be delivered to their home within one or two days after the later to occur of the court hearing, or the filing of any required bond.

All letters show the date they were issued and they are valid for 60 days from that date. For a modest charge (about $2.00 per letter in Harris County), additional letters may be acquired at any time during the probate administration.

How do I obtain a Letter of Administration?

To obtain a letter of administration, the person who desires to qualify as the administrator or administratrix of a deceased personís estate must follow the statutory procedures to administer and probate an estate generally when there is no will, and normally in the county where the deceased person resided.

Who commonly requires a Letter of Administration?

Banks, financial institutions, brokerage companies, stock transfer agents, and governments often require letters of administration before they will communicate or conduct business (for example, withdraw funds or transfer publicly traded securities) with a representative of a deceased person.  In the case of private businesses, if they mistakenly transfer the assets of a deceased person to the wrong individual, they may be liable for their error and have to pay "twice."  So they are understandably very cautious, and therefore require an official court  document before they will transfer a deceased personís assets to anyone.

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