I have never had a client who knew the meaning of the term “muniment.” The word “muniment” is defined as “document.” Consequently, Muniment of Title (“MT”) is documented evidence of title of ownership of something. An example would be a deed to real property.
Probating a Will as a Muniment of Title is somewhat unique, and few states provide for its use. It is used when there is real property held in the Decedent’s name that must be transferred to the beneficiary. It is a shortened probate procedure. A Will admitted to probate as a Muniment of Title serves to act as a link in the “chain” of title that would otherwise not exist by reason of the Decedent’s death. It is often less expensive and less time consuming than traditional probate.
In order to use a Muniment of Title as a method of probate, certain conditions must exist.
Unlike a traditional probate, in a MT, no administrator or representative is formally appointed by the Court. However, the named executor has the legal authority to transfer estate property in accordance with the Will. No estate administration is necessary because there are no creditors of the estate.
Use of the MT is the only mechanism by which a Will can be admitted to probate more than 4 years after the death of the Decedent. Texas law requires that probate of a Will must be initiated within four years of the Decedent’s death. If it is not, the only way to admit the Will to probate is by utilizing a MT. However, it is important to note that a Court is NOT required to admit a Will for probate as a MT. The applicant must provide an acceptable reason for why the Will was not probated within the four-year period. There has been quite a bit of controversy over the past few years over what constitutes an “acceptable reason”.
** In some cases where there is credit card or other such debt, the beneficiaries may elect to pay those debts prior to offering the Will for probate as a Muniment of Title. That way, the applicant can truthfully attest to the fact that the estate has no debt so the real property can be transferred more efficiently.