Under Texas law, there is a unique option to probate a will called a Muniment of Title. This option allows for a shortened probate period that still allows the estate to transfer real estate without the longer process typically required by the court. There are several benefits to this form of probate, as well as several areas for concern. Below is a brief overview of Muniment of Title Probate.
This type of probate is appropriate in cases where the deceased has left a Last Will and Testament and when there are not any debts that are unsecured by real estate. This type of probate cannot be used in cases where there must be an administrator who can settle the estate by gathering a list of assets, liquidating them as needed, paying off debts and creditors and finally distributing the remainder of the estate to the heirs or beneficiaries.
This is an ideal form of probate for one main reason: it is the shortest way to probate the will. Unfortunately, if there are investments such as corporate securities, where out of state companies or agents must be involved, they often do not understand the unique form of probate that is Muniment of title. In cases where it is obvious that out of state entities must be involved it is not recommended that this form of probate be used.
The process involved in Muniment of Title is quite simple. First an Application must be filled out. This application will be ‘sworn to by the requestor. A filling fee and the original will must be included with the application. The courthouse must receive notice of the application 10 days before the Monday during the week the hearing will be heard. In certain cases, heirs must be informed as well. The hearing will include several key aspects. These include:
- Proof that the death occurred as stated and information on the cause
- A witness must officially ‘sign’ attesting to the information above. This is referred to as “Proof of Death and Other Facts”
- The will must be proved. If it is not self-proving, witnesses will be required to prove it
- The judge will order the will into probate under Muniment of Title.
At this point, the order will be filed as needed. Typically this includes each county or area in which the estate owned real estate. While an inventory is not required under Muniment of Title, it is commonly requested by the judge. Additionally, it may be necessary to submit a written statement that any property has been legally transferred to the appropriate beneficiary or heir.
To start the process the original will, original death certificate and the applicable filing fees are needed. To determine if the Muniment of Title is the appropriate form of probate for your particular situation, it is important you meet with a qualified attorney. They can advise you as to the form of probate needed and assist you with the sometimes difficult and painful process of probate.