After a Louisiana resident passes away, a surviving loved one often goes to the deceased's bank, credit union, or brokerage firm, in an effort to settle the estate of their loved one. The financial institution promptly responds by saying something like, "Your loved one's accounts at this financial institution are all frozen. You must bring back "Letters Testamentary" or "Letters of Administration" in order to gain access to funds.
These days, the financial institutions are asking for the wrong things. They should be requesting "Letters of Independent Executorship" or "Letters of Independent Administration."
Since 2001, Louisiana has authorized the independent administration of estates - less court supervision. Virtually all Wills written since 2001 authorize this procedure. And if a Will does not authorize it, then the heirs can agree to operate under this independent administration procedure.
After a death, when the family gets the executor confirmed, and if the executor is acting as an independent executor (which is the case in an overwhelming majority of Successions), the court does not issue "Letters Testamentary." The court issues "Letters of Independent Executorship."
So the bank requests Letters Testamentary, and then we have to tell them that we will not give them what the bank is requesting. We will give them Letters of Independent Executorship.
It would be easier on everyone if the financial institution tells the survivors of its clients and customers that they can bring in the Letters of Independent Executorship to gain access to the funds of the deceased.
To some, this may seem to be a trivial matter. But when we deal with so many confused survivors, anything the legal and financial industries can do to help those in need at a difficult time would make everyone's job easier. Just my two cents.
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Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
Phone: (225) 329-2450