What Is A Muniment Of Title Probate, And When Is It Appropriate?

Posted by: Adair M. Buckner

A full, more expensive probate of a Will may not always be necessary. Texas law provides for a shortened, less complicated, less expensive form of probate in specific circumstances. This is called probate as a muniment of title. 

This funny-sounding procedure really means that your loved one's Will is officially recognized as valid by the probate court, with a shortened process. This is a simple process compared to a full, regular probateIt then becomes part of the public record in the county where the probate was filed as notice to third parties to honor the terms of the Will to transfer property to the beneficiaries.

To qualify for probate as a muniment of title ("MT"), the applicant must swear to the court in the application for probate that there are no unsatisfied debts of the estate, except liens against real property, if any. This is the primary difference between a regular, full probate and the MT probate. Other standard facts, such as the decedent's county residence at time of death, date of death, and facts supporting that the Will was properly executed also must be included in the application.

Another difference between a full probate and a MT probate is that the applicant in the MT process does not have to be the executor named in the Will. This sometimes simplifies the process if the executor lives far away and someone else, who is local, can serve as the applicant. The applicant still must satisfy the court that he or she has a connection to the decedent such that he or she can swear to the facts stated in the application for probate.


Steps In The Muniment Of Title Probate Process

  1. The filing of the application for probate (which must be sworn to) with the Will attached, and one follow-up hearing before the probate judge to assure him or her that the requirements for probate as a MT have been met. The judge will sign an order admitting the Will to probate as a MT at the conclusion of the hearing if the legal requirements have been met.

  2. The order then automatically is carried forward in the official public records for the county in which the probate was filed. Unless there is real estate owned in another county, nothing further is required for the transfer of property in that county to the beneficiaries under the Will. 

  3. Obtaining certified copies of the MT probate documents if there is real property owned outside that county, and filing those with the county clerk in each county where real property of the decedent is located. 

  4. Presenting a certified copy of the MT probate documents to holders of other assets of the decedent, such as bank accounts and investment accounts, to authorize the transfer to beneficiaries. 

A probate attorney will handle these steps for you to facilitate the transfer of property in accordance with the terms of the Will. 

Unfortunately, many banks and similar institutions will try to tell you that they must have letters testamentary, which are only issued in a full probate, to transfer assets. This is not true under Texas law. I have had to educate many such third parties, with the threat of a lawsuit, to get them to honor the order in the MT proceeding. Magically, once I have provided these third parties with the law, they back down on the demand for letters testamentary.


Ready To Get Started?

If you would like to discuss whether your loved one's Will can be handled by a muniment of title probate, or have other questions about the Texas probate process, please contact Adair M. Buckner for a free initial consultation.*

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*(The free consultation does not cover actual review of documents or giving legal advice on a specific situation.)

**This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, specific tax, legal, or accounting advice. We can only give specific advice upon consulting directly with you and reviewing your exact situation.


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