Nature and Benefits of a Texas Muniment of Title Action

There are different ways to probate a Will in Texas.  One little known option available in Texas and a few other states is a Muniment of Title proceeding.  This is a court action where the court admits a will to probate solely to establish title to personal and real property.

Benefits of a Muniment of Title Action

The main benefit of a muniment of title action is that it is a shortened probate process that allows the estate to transfer real estate without the longer administration process and related expenses typically required by the Court in a formal Texas probate proceeding.  A muniment of title proceeding requires less paperwork, fewer county filing fees, and when it is recorded in a county it serves to “instantly” transfer titles of all of the decedent’s property to his beneficiaries.  It also reduces the amount of time spent in probate, usually toless than 60 days. While a muniment of title can significantly simplify the probate process, it is only available for certain estates, and strict requirements must be met.

Requirements for Muniment of Title Proceeding

To probate a Will as a muniment of title, the decedent must have executed a valid last will and testament. In addition, in order to be eligible for the muniment of title, the decedent must have been debt-free (except for a house mortgage) at the time of their death.  A person can utilize this procedure without having to retain an attorney if there is a sole will beneficiary or if all beneficiaries are co-applicants who agree to utilize the process to probate the estate.

Legal Affect of a Completed Muniment of Title Proceeding

If the court admits the will as a muniment of title, the court’s order and the will itself is sufficient to legally transfer title to the property described in the will to the beneficiaries.   No further proceedings are required to effectuate the transfer.   

Court Process

A muniment of title proceeding commences with the filing of an application with the county clerk.  Upon receipt of the application the county clerk prepares and issues a citation, which is posted outside the courthouse for 10 days. After the posting period there will be a hearing at which a witness will need to testify regarding the circumstances of the decedent and estate. The witness will then sign a document called a Proof of Death and Other Facts in the presence of the Clerk of the Court and an Oath of No Debts. The Court will then sign an Order probating the will as a Muniment of Title. The applicant thereafter obtains certified copies of the Order Admitting the Will to Probate as a Muniment of Title and the Last Will and Testament of the Decedent and files them with the county clerk. These documents serve as legal authority to transfer the subject property to the will beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will.

Reporting Requirement

Unless waived by the court, the applicant for probate of the will must file with the court clerk a sworn affidavit stating specifically the terms of the will that have been fulfilled and terms of the will that have been unfulfilled. This affidavit must be filed before the 181st day after the will is admitted to probate as a muniment of title.

Muniment of Title and Medicaid Benefits

In order to probate a will as a muniment of title, the decedent must not have owed any debts other than those secured by liens on real estate. If the decedent applied for and received Medicaid benefits on or after March 1, 2005, then the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program may have a claim against the estate, thus affecting the viability of using a muniment of title application to probate the will.

Lynx Legal can help you determine whether a muniment of title action is right for you, and can prepare all the documents necessary for you to obtain an order probating the will as a muniment of title.   Our experienced professionals are standing by to answer any question you may have, and will cost-effectively prepare the required documentation if you are ready to start a case.  We can be reached at 888-441-2355 or info@lynxlegal.com

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