If you are appointed to serve as the executor of an estate, you need to be able to demonstrate you have authority over the affairs of the estate. The law prohibits financial institutions, businesses or any other entity or individual from dealing with you on behalf of the estate in the absence of verified proof that you have authority to oversee the affairs of that estate. The legal document that verifies an executor's authority to settle the affairs of an estate is what is known as "letters of executor."
Obtain the original will in which you are nominated to be the executor of the estate.
Prepare a petition to admit will to probate and to be appointed officially as the executor of the estate. The court clerk maintains samples of commonly used court documents, including a petition to admit will to probate. The court clerk provides you with the date and time of the hearing on the petition to admit will to probate and to appoint an executor.
Attend the hearing. Barring no legally appropriate objection to admitting the will to probate and to your appointment as executor, the court will act. The court will issue an order admitting the will to the probate process. The court also will issue what are known as letters of executor in your name.
Use the court issued letters of executor to demonstrate your authority to take all necessary action to manage, oversee and settle the affairs of the estate.
- "The Executor's Guide: Settling a Loved One's Estate or Trust;" Mary Randolph; 2010
- "The Executor's Handbook;" Theodore E. Hughes; 2007
- State of California Superior Court: How to Probate an Estate
- Obtain what are known as certified copies of the letters of executor. A certified copy is a duplicate of the original letters of executor that is authenticated by the clerk of the court as being a true and correct copy of the document. A number of individuals and other entities an executor needs to deal with in settling the affairs of the estate will desire a certified copy of this instrument for their own records.
- Document all activities you undertake on behalf of an estate. Pay particular attention to fully documenting all expenditures of money or transfers of assets you make in your capacity as executor. You need to make certain you verify your actions should anyone ever challenge your efforts.