Law Offices Of Thomas Sciacca, PLLC

Blog Fiduciaries Surrogate's Court

Why Are People Asking Me For Updated Certificates of Letters Testamentary or Letters of Admin?


{Read in 3 Minutes}  As a Trusts and Estates attorney, I frequently help people get Letters. Whether it is an Executor in a probate proceeding, or an Administrator in a Voluntary Administration proceeding, the fiduciary of the Estate always holds Letters from the Surrogate’s Court. Holding letters is evidence of the Executor’s or Administrator’s authority to act on behalf of the Estate, and the Court issues Letters at the conclusion of a probate or administration proceeding.

Sometimes Executors or Administrators will receive a request for updated Letters. This is sometimes frustrating. They feel that they’ve already gone through the process of seeking an appointment — why would they have to go back to the Court and ask for updated certificates? While the Surrogate’s Court is generally very quick and efficient, people are not looking to commence another proceeding if they can at all help it.

Good news! This does not require another proceeding at all. All that the Executor or Administrator needs to do is purchase a new certificate from the cashier’s department at the Surrogate’s Court.

Every Certificate of Letters has two dates on it. First, when the Court issued Letters to the Executor or Administrator, and second when the Court printed the physical raised-seal certificate. Often, banks and title companies will ask that Executors or Administrators produce certificates dated within 90 days of the transaction. Why? This is how they know that the Letters are in full force and effect; the Executor has not resigned, the Court hasn’t removed the Executor for bad behavior, and the Executor is the same person — the Court hasn’t had to appoint a successor to finish up any unfinished business

The process of purchasing the certificates is easy. Someone can show up at the Court and purchase them, or someone can do this by mail by sending a written request with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and the Court will issue the Certificate(s) and send them back. The cost is $6 per Certificate, not per Estate, so if the Executor needs three new Certificates for the same Estate, the filing fee is $18, for example. Please note that the Courts do not accept personal checks. It’s always best to go in with a major credit card (MasterCard or Visa), cash, or a USPS money order. For those people ordering certificates on the spot in person, the Court will often issue them on the spot with a delay of only a couple of minutes. However, it’s always best to check the Court’s website to make sure that the cashier doesn’t close at certain points for lunch, or earlier in the afternoon to begin the process of closing down and reconciling the transactions for the day. For more information on this topic, please contact me.