What prevents a muniment of title?

Posted by iLawyer on Oct 17th, 2018 Firm News, Probate

When a loved one dies, dealing with the division of their estate afterwards can be stressful. Depending on how well they planned out their wills or trusts, you may have to endure probate court before inheriting everything that the deceased wanted you to have.

While many have devised numerous strategies to minimize or eliminate probate court all together, there is one process in Texas that you can rarely find anywhere else. This proceeding is known as the “muniment of title” and can offer Texans a and less pricy way to settle their loved one’s estate by bypassing the appointment of an executor and standard administration process. Before you consider this option, you need to know if the decedent’s estate is eligible for it.

Outstanding debts

You must prove that the decedent has no unpaid debt unless it is secured by a lien on real estate. If there are no unpaid debts, then there will be less conflict with the proceedings as the property is now easily more transferable. This means that there would be less of a need for an administration of the estate. Even if your loved one has everything clearly written in the will, they could build up debt through medical care or other means before they go, so be sure to keep up with any major financial activity.

No will

The muniment of title process hinges on the decedent’s will. The heirs will present the will to the court and request acknowledgement that they are the rightful property owners without the standard administration process. As long as the decedent did not revoke or alter the will without your knowledge and made it while they were of sound mind, the process should be straightforward. However, if you cannot produce the will on your own, you must state why you cannot produce it and list your knowledge of the will’s contents if you want a chance of getting into this process.

Not all assets are applicable

These proceedings do not work with all properties owned by the decedent. For example, bank and brokerage accounts are difficult to apply muniment of title to because many come from states outside of Texas and are unfamiliar with how this process works. They will likely prefer the administration process, which means trying to convert it would be both stressful and potentially expensive.

With how unique this law is to Texas, you should learn all you need to about it and see if it can apply to a loved one’s estate. An estate planning and administration attorney can help you determine if you can take advantage of this state law and how you should prepare for it.