In general, a “muniment of title” refers to deeds and other written documents that prove title to property, such as wills and court judgments. Texas is the only state in the country that allows a will to be probated as a muniment of title. This allows smaller estates with limited debts and assets to avoid the formal probate process.
When a will is probated as a muniment of title, the court does not appoint an executor or personal representative to administer the estate. This means that no one is given the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate, so this type of probate is typically only appropriate when no actions need to be taken to settle the estate, such as selling property.
How Do You Probate a Will as a Muniment of Title in Texas?
To probate a will as a muniment of title in Texas, an interested party, typically a beneficiary, must file an application in the probate court in the county where the deceased resided.
Texas Estates Code § 257.051 requires an application for the probate of a will as a muniment of title to include as much of the following information as the applicant knows or can find out:
- The name and domicile of each applicant
- The last three numbers of each applicant’s driver’s license number and SSN
- The deceased’s name, domicile, and age on the date of death
- The last three numbers of the deceased’s driver’s license number and SSN
- The fact, date, and place of death
- Facts showing that the court has venue
- A general description of the deceased’s property and the property’s probable value
- The date of the will
- The name, state of residence, and physical address of the executor named in the will
- The name of each witness to the will, if any
- The name of any surviving children who were born or adopted after the will was made
- A statement that the testator’s estate does not owe an unpaid debt, other than any debt secured by a lien on real estate, or that for another reason there is no necessity for administration of the estate
- If the deceased had a marriage dissolved after the will was made and, if so, when and from whom
- If the state, a governmental agency of the state, or a charitable organization is named in the will
The will itself generally must be filed with the application, along with proof of the following:
- That the maker of the will is dead and has been dead for less than four years
- That the court has jurisdiction and venue over the estate
- That citation has been served and returned in the manner and for the period required
- That the testator’s estate does not owe an unpaid debt, other than any debt secured by a lien on real estate, or that for another reason there is no necessity for administration of the estate
- That the testator did not revoke the will
- That the will is validly executed
Under Texas Estates Code § 257.001, a court may admit a valid will to probate as a muniment of title if the estate does not owe an unpaid debt, other than any debt secured by a lien on real estate or the court finds that formal administration of the estate is not necessary for some other reason. If the court admits the will as a muniment of title, the court’s order and the will will be sufficient to legally transfer title to the property described in the will to the beneficiaries.
Do I Need a Lawyer To Probate a Will in Texas?
No, a lawyer is not required to probate a will in Texas. Many Texas Courts do require a personal representative to be represented by counsel. Even if not a personal representative, consulting with a probate attorney when a loved one passes can help you determine the best way to probate the will.
While a muniment of title can significantly simplify the probate process, it is only available for certain estates, and strict requirements must be met. During this challenging time, an attorney’s guidance can be invaluable, particularly if you are named the executor of the estate in the will. By discussing the circumstances of your loved one’s death, you can ensure you take the most appropriate course of action to settle the estate quickly and cost-effectively.
Have questions? We’re happy to discuss.
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About RMO, LLP
RMO LLP provides personal and efficient inheritance dispute services to individual and institutional clients. The firm’s attorneys focus on probate litigation involving contested trust, estate, probate, and conservatorship matters. Serving California and Texas, with offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, the Bay Area, Dallas, and Houston. For more information, please visit https://rmolawyers.com/.