What is a letter of appointment pertaining to a will?

Asked over 4 years ago - Fremont, OH

The bank is telling us that we need a letter of appointment to set up a checking account for a deceased relative. We would like to know exactly what this letter is. Thanks!

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Elizabeth Smith Schmitz

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . To establish a bank account for an estate you need to first have someone appointed as either adminstrator or executor. A family member or the person named in the will, if any, applies to the probate court to be appointed. Once appointed they will be issued a Letter of Authority (this would be the letter of appointment referred to by the bank).

    You will also need to apply to the IRS for an estate taxpayer identification number.

    I would suggest that you consult with a local probate attorney.

  2. Justin Jay Watling

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . Just so you understand the terminology:

    An Executor (Executrix if female) is a person appointed by the Probate Court under the Will to administer an Estate. An Administrator (Administratrix if female) is a person appointed by the Probate Court when there is no Will (known as dying intestate). The Letters of Authority is a one page form from the Probate Court proving that the named person has been duly authorized by the Probate Court to administer the Estate of a deceased person.

    The bank needs to have evidence of this appointment before it will open any account in the name of the appointed person on behalf of the Estate.

    As mentioned, you also will need to get a taxpayer identification number for the Estate from IRS. This can be done fairly quickly online.

    While it is possible for you to do all this work yourself, I suggest you seek the services of a qualified probate attorney. Since there still will be a lot more work to be done to properly administer the Estate, it is best to have the attorney involved from the beginning so additional time will not be required to fix something that was not done right the first time.

  3. Justin Jay Watling

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . Just so you understand the terminology:

    An Executor (Executrix if female) is a person appointed by the Probate Court under the Will to administer an Estate. An Administrator (Administratrix if female) is a person appointed by the Probate Court when there is no Will (known as dying intestate). The Letters of Authority is a one page form from the Probate Court proving that the named person has been duly authorized by the Probate Court to administer the Estate of a deceased person.

    The bank needs to have evidence of this appointment before it will open any account in the name of the appointed person on behalf of the Estate.

    As mentioned, you also will need to get a taxpayer identification number for the Estate from IRS. This can be done fairly quickly online.

    While it is possible for you to do all this work yourself, I suggest you seek the services of a qualified probate attorney. Since there still will be a lot more work to be done to properly administer the Estate, it is best to have the attorney involved from the beginning so additional time will not be required to fix something that was not done right the first time.

  4. John J. Sullivan

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . I am not licensed in OH, so I can only answer in general terms. What the bank is saying is that you have to have the will probated by the court ("proven" as the last will and testament). Once the will is probated, the court typically issues an instrument evidencing that the person named as the personal representative or executor is legally authorized to act for the estate. Here in WA they are called Letters Testamentary. Apparently in OH they are called Letters of Appointment. Think of them as the executor's "badge of authority."

    You will need a competent local probate attorney to probate the will and obtain the Letters from the court. Then you can apply for an EIN for the estate from the IRS and the bank will open an account in the name of the estate.

    When you consult with local counsel you should consider the possibility of an alternative to probate if the estate is relatively modest. Many states have a small estate affidavit procedure that will be less formal and costly. Not all bank personnel know about this.

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