As many individuals in Texas know all too well, the probate process can be long and drawn out. Waiting for a decedent’s assets to be distributed can take months, which often makes things difficult for beneficiaries who might need more immediate access to their loved one’s funds. In Texas, however, there is an option called Muniment of Title that allows for a quicker probate process. Muniment of Title is not for everyone, and there are certain procedural requirements that individuals must consider when thinking about whether to use this option in their estate planning strategies.
What is Muniment of Title?
The word muniment literally refers to documents that allow an individual to defend his or her right to an estate. Muniment of Title, then, is a specific tool in the probate process that shortens the time necessary for probate to move to completion.
In Texas, the Muniment of Title is discussed in the Estates Code Chapter 257. The provision states that when a person dies with a will, and without any debts, that person can potentially use Muniment of Title to bypass some of the procedural and logistical requirements of probate.
How Does Muniment of Title Work?
For Muniment of Title to work, the applicant must swear that, to the best of his or her own knowledge, the estate in question has no debts attached to it. The applicant then submits the decedent’s will, and the probate court posts a notice for ten days, advising the public that a hearing will take place.
At the hearing, the court looks at the decedent’s will, and a witness again testifies to the fact that there are no debts at issue. Assuming the court approves the will, the applicant then must file an affidavit indicating the terms have been fulfilled within 180 days. The probate process is then complete, and the court is no longer involved in the decedent’s estate.
How Do I Know if Muniment of Title is Right for Me?
If your estate or your loved one’s estate includes no debts against the estate (other than those secured by liens against real estate), then Muniment of Title might be right for you. Additionally, the decedent must not have applied for or ever received Medicaid benefits, which is a requirement not to be overlooked.
Overall, if you meet the above requirements and would like to know if Muniment of Title is right for you, contact an estate planning attorney that can explain the process more thoroughly and walk you through the various tools that might be at your disposal, according to your individualized needs and goals.
Do You Need an Estate Planning Attorney in Houston?
At McCulloch & Miller, we specialize in Houston estate planning and probate, and we are committed to crafting the perfect plan of action for each of our clients. Everyone’s estate is different, everyone’s needs are different, and your legal strategy should not fit into one cookie-cutter estate plan. Our firm is committed to giving you the care and attention you need to make sure you can take care of yourself and your loved ones, both now and in the long term. For a consultation with a member of our team, call us today at (713) 597-7176. You can also fill out our online form to have an attorney get in touch with you by phone.