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As a probate attorney I am often asked by Personal Representatives (also known as Executors) named under the will when they can get started.

A loved one has recently died and they want to start paying bills and doing the things that need to be done to take care of the estate.

It’s at this point I have to tell them they are going to have to wait.

Why?

Because although you may be named as the Personal Representative for the probate of someone’s estate, you are not technically the Personal Representative until the court has validated the will and named you the Personal Representative (this is when you get “letters” or “Letters Testamentary” which tell the world you are in charge of the estate.

If you do not have Letters you are technically not the Personal Representative.

Getting Letters is relatively straightforward, though you are probably going to want to hire a probate attorney to help you. Here it is:

1. File the will.

2. File a Petition to Open Probate.

3. File a propose Order Opening Probate.

4. File any required waivers (or set a hearing).

5. File the Oath of Personal Representative.

Once the court receives all of those documents and approves them, you will technically and officially be the Personal Representative of the estate.

Hope this helps!

As a reminder, if you need help with a probate and want to talk to a probate attorney, click here to set up your free probate strategy session.

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