Reed: Employing muniment of title for an estate

Sandra W. Reed
Special to the Reporter

Janice’s husband, Tom, has died suddenly from a heart attack. His will has left everything to her. The couple paid off the mortgage on their home five years ago. They purchased both their cars with cash. They have routinely paid the balance on their credit cards in full each month.

Janice wrote a check for the small amount of medical bills their insurance didn’t pay for Tom’s hospitalization and treatment prior to death. Does Janice have to probate Tom’s will?

Sandra Reed

Muniment of title as an alternative to probating administration?

Texas employs a unique probate process called Muniment of Title not available in other states. Probating a will as a muniment of title is intended to simplify the process of probate by obtaining transfer of the estate property without administration of the estate.

What are the prerequisites for muniment of title probate?

The two main requirements to using muniment of title include: (1) the estate has no debts; and (2) there is no need for administration of the estate. Tom’s estate meets these criteria. Incidentally, his estate would still qualify if their mortgage had not been paid off, as this is one debt that doesn’t disqualify the estate from utilizing muniment of title.

What are the requirements for muniment of title probate?

To meet the requirements of probating with muniment of title, Janice will need to file an application for probate using this process filing with it the original will. The Court will examine the will and issue an order determining its validity and confirming that the property can be distributed to the beneficiary or beneficiaries. In this case, to Janice as the only beneficiary.

When must application for muniment of title be filed?

The application for probate of the will as a muniment of title should be filed within four years following the testator’s death. Otherwise, the simplification which is the benefit of this process is lost. If Janice were to wait longer than four years to file, she would have to provide the court with a good explanation for the delay and she would have to notify all of the decedent’s heirs who would have inherited if he had died without a will.

Sandra W. Reed practices Elder Law in Somervell County, handling probating of estates, drafting of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and deeds as well as estate and Medicaid planning.  She lives on beautiful Chalk Mountain and can be reached at 254.797.0211; 817.946.2809 or at sreed@kbzlaw.com.