Letters Testamentary Even if No Assets

Letters testamentary (or letters of administration) are the key document in a California probate case. Letters is not actually a “letter” but rather it’s a legal document, akin to a court order, which allows the personal representative of the probate estate to stand in the decedent’s shoes. This allows the PR to deal with assets, creditors, liabilities, taxes, and whatever else arises in a California probate case.

There are some cases, however, where there are no assets of value but there still might be a need for letters. If nothing else, maybe “letters of special administration” to be able to communicate with a mortgage company for a house that was owned by a trust (and thus not part of a probate) but the mortgage was in the decedent’s name. Or possible there was an annuity or other asset with a death benefit but the survivor’s need to access documents to look into asset contributions, beneficiary changes, etc….  In these cases there might not be an actual “asset” that is part of a probate but letters are still needed. Of course there are many more situations like this.

If you think you need letters contact me so we can discuss all the options.  If you need letters I can get them for you!


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10.0John Bernard Palley
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