Muniment of Title
Probating a will as a muniment of title is the fastest, most affordable way to probate a will in Texas. A muniment of title will allow the transfer of estate property to the beneficiaries named in the decedent’s will without the need for estate administration. To probate a will as a muniment of title, the requirement of having a valid, written will still applies. One additional requirement of this probate procedure is that the decedent must not have owed any debts, other than a mortgage on their house, at the time of their death.
Probating a will as a muniment of title is best used in estates that are small and straightforward. For instance, when the decedent’s only asset was a house that now needs to be transferred to the beneficiaries, the muniment of title might be a good procedure to consider. However, probating the will as a muniment of title may not be a good idea if the beneficiaries do not get along or if there are significant assets in the estate. Moreover, because the muniment of title is a mechanism that is unique to Texas, this probate procedure should not be used in estates with assets that are held out of state – such as stocks or other financial products.
In Texas, courts will generally require you to retain a probate attorney to proceed with this procedure. The steps to probate a will as a muniment of title are similar, but not identical to, those required to probate a will in cases where administration is required. To begin, your probate attorney will file with the probate court the decedent’s original will and an Application to Probate Will as a Muniment of Title. Additionally, your attorney may also file a compliance affidavit from the will’s beneficiaries stating that they are aware of and agree to the use of this procedure. In Bexar County, probate attorneys will usually also file a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate at this time. After filing these documents, the sheriff will post a notice on the courthouse steps that the decedent’s will is being probated, and after ten days have elapsed your probate attorney will be able to set a hearing in the probate court so that a judge can hear your Application.
At a minimum, your probate attorney will need to draft two documents that must be signed by the Applicant at the hearing. The first is called a Proof of Death and Other Facts, a document noting, among other things, information on the decedent’s death, place of residence, and will. The second is a proposed Order Admitting Will to Probate as a Muniment of Title, which will be signed by the judge after he hears your Application. Additionally, Bexar County Probate Courts also require that the Applicant sign an Oath of No Debts Against the Estate, on which the Applicant must swear that, to the best of their knowledge, the estate does not owe any debts other than those on real property. Depending on how the decedent’s will was drafted, additional witnesses and documents may be required. A Texas Probate Lawyer will advise you on the necessity of additional witnesses.
After the hearing there are fewer requirements than those in an ordinary estate administration. In some instances, the Applicant will be required to file a compliance affidavit swearing that he has made all of the distributions outlined by the will within 180 days of the hearing. Generally, this is only required if compliance affidavits were not obtained from all of the beneficiaries named in the decedent’s will.
Contact our Texas probate attorney for a free consultation to determine if this procedure is appropriate in your case.