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My Bank Says I Need Letters of Administration to Cash an Estate Check. What Does That Mean?

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, you probably have tons of questions regarding their estate. If you’ve been sent a check in the name of the Estate then you will have to take a few steps before you can deposit and use the check. 

For example, let’s say John Smith died and his next of kin was issued a check titled, “Estate of John Smith.” His family tried to cash the check, but the bank told them that they need to open an Estate account in order to deposit the Estate check. 

They can’t deposit the check into their personal account and will need to open a succession and take a few steps before they can access the money.

Here’s what John’s family will need to do: 

First, they will want to speak with an attorney to make sure they do the right thing. Their attorney will draft a Petition, Verification, Affidavits of Death, Domicile and Heirship, Letters of Administration (If there was no will) and other documents. 

The judge will review the succession paperwork to determine if everything was submitted correctly. The judge will then sign an order that the attorney prepared to state that a particular person that the family chose is to be named the Administrator (if no will) or Executor (if there was a will). The Clerk of Court will then sign the document the attorney filed called, “Letters of Administration” and will send a certified copy to their attorney. 

There are two things that a client needs in order to open an Estate account at the bank:

  1. Letters of Administration or Letters of Executorship
  2. EIN provided by the IRS. You can get this number through their website

They will then bring these two documents to the bank along with IDs and anything else the banker requires to open the account. Once the Estate account is open, the family can then deposit the check and handle the estate business. 

It may take a long time to handle the estate business, especially if real estate is involved. Once everything regarding the succession is complete, your attorney will then draft a Judgment that closes the succession. 


Can a Notary Public Get Letters of Administration? 

A notary cannot file anything with the court. They can assist with a small succession affidavit, but you are ultimately responsible for filing your documents if you use a notary. Also, you can lose money if the affidavit is not prepared correctly or if it’s the wrong document.

Here’s an article we wrote on the matter. 

Can I Open an Estate Bank Account with a Small Succession Affidavit?

No, a small succession affidavit will not help you open a bank account. Banks want to see the Letters of Administration or Letters of Executorship that proves you are the correct person to open the account and handle the money. They want to see that the court approves them allowing you to open an account. 

How Much Does it Cost to Get Letters of Administration? 

You can’t get the Letters of Administration by themselves, you have to file a succession. The court will require you to go through all of the steps of opening a succession before they will issue the Letters. 

Each case is different and you will need to send us your information so that we can provide you with a quote. 

How Long Does It Take to Get Letters of Administration? 

The time frame depends on many factors such as: 

  1. The type of property
  2. Where the property is located
  3. Number of heirs
  4. Whether heirs are willing to sign
  5. Is there a Will
  6. Clerk of Court processing time
  7. Judge’s office processing time
  8. Mail processing time
  9. Whether or not you have your information ready to begin

While there are a number of factors that determine how long it takes to get the Letters of Administration, we can help you speed up the time frame by walking you through the process. 

We are happy to help if you need to obtain Letters of Administration or Letters of Executorship. To get started, just send us a quick message telling us your situation and we will contact you back to give you some guidance.

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