Muniment of Title
One of three types of probate in Texas, Muniment of Title is unique to Texas and generally not understood by attorneys in other states. Because of that, it can be difficult to use when dealing with attorneys outside of the state, especially those that represent banks and other financial institutions.
What is Muniment of Title?
Muniment of title is a mechanism where a Decedent’s Will is filed for probate and the Court recognizes the Will but does not appoint an executor or administrator to administer the Estate. Rather, once the Court signs its Order establishing the Will as the Decedent’s true last Will, a certified copy of the Will and the Court’s Order can be used to transfer title in any property owned by the Decedent to those people listed in his Will. The Will and the Order serve as an equivalent to a new deed to any real estate.
A Muniment of Title:
- Provides for a streamlined probate process
- Only applies when filing a Will for probate
- Does not require the appointment of an administrator or executor
Is the only mechanism by which you can probate a Will more than 4 years after the Decedent’s death.
Filing a Will for Probate After the 4-Year Deadline
As noted under Probate FAQs, a Will must be filed for probate within 4 years of the Decedent’s date of death. However, the Texas Probate Code creates a small exception for Wills filed as a muniment of title. If the person filing the Will is determined to have not been at fault in not bringing the Will for probate within the 4 years, then the Court can recognize the Will through a muniment of title only.
Issues with Probating a Will as a Muniment of Title
The muniment of title method is most effectively used when the estate consists solely of real estate. If, however, the estate includes bank accounts or brokerage accounts, experience tells us that out-of-state attorneys representing those banks and financial institutions do not understand this Texas concept.
The attorneys will, many times, require us to convert the administration to either a dependent or an independent administration. While the muniment of title can be less costly than the traditional methods of probate, it becomes much more costly if you are required to convert it because of issues with a bank or financial institution.
Muniment of Title is Not Always an Option
Muniment of title has no application if the Decedent died without leaving a valid Will. (In the case where someone died without a Will and you prefer to avoid the formal probate of the estate, see the Alternatives to Probate.)
Likewise, muniment of title is not available if there are outstanding debts owed by the Decedent, unless those debts are secured by real property.
Contact and Experienced Probate Attorney
If you have questions about filing a will for probate as a muniment of title, or you are unsure what type of probate is best for your circumstance, and you would like to discuss the case with an experience probate attorney in Texas, contact Ford + Bergner.