Texas is unique in allowing last wills and testaments to be probated as a “muniment of title.” Many states have no such equivalent. “The case law in Texas is quite liberal in permitting a will to be offered as a muniment of title after the statute of limitations has expired upon the showing of an excuse by the proponent for the failure to offer the will earlier.” In re Estate of Allen, 407 S.W.3d 335, 339 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2013, no pet.). Section 256.003(a) of the Texas Estates Code provides that “a will may not be admitted to probate after the fourth anniversary of the testator’s death unless it is shown by proof that the applicant for the probate of the will was not in default in failing to present the will for probate on or before the fourth anniversary of the testator’s death.” Section 256.003(b) of the Texas Estates Code provides that “letters testamentary may not be issued if a will is admitted to probate after the fourth anniversary of the testator’s death unless it is shown that the application for probate was filed on or before the fourth anniversary of the testator’s death.” Accordingly, a will can be admitted to probate after four years if the proponent was not in default in failing to present the will to the probate court, but letters testamentary cannot be obtained after four years. So, after four years, it generally makes sense to probate the will solely as a muniment of title since letters testamentary are not available. Chapter 257 of the Texas Estates Code covers Probate of a Will as a Muniment of Title. Under Texas law, anyone who “is entitled to property under the provisions of a will admitted to probate as a muniment of title” can “deal with and treat the property in the same manner as if the record of title to the property was vested in the person’s name.” Tex. Estates Code Ann. § 257.102(b) (West). Moreover, when a will is probated as a muniment of title, third parties who transfer custody of property to “a person described in the will as entitled to receive the asset” are shielded from any liability for doing so. Tex. Estates Code Ann. § 257.102(a) (West). When probating a will as a muniment of title, the notice requirements to beneficiaries and claimants under Chapter 308, Subchapter A of the Texas Estates Code do not apply. Tex. Estates Code Ann. § 308.0015. Citation in a muniment of title case typically occurs by posting. See Tex. Estates Code §§ 258.001, 303.001. Probate courts have discretion over whether to require additional notice. Tex. Estates Code § 51.001.
Copyright, Ian Ghrist, 2019, All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction strictly prohibited.
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