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Attorney Randy Ratliff

Muniment of Title

Estate Planning Lawyer Assisting Residents of Nashville

Probate can be lengthy and expensive. The probate process is used to oversee the distribution of a decedent's estate to their beneficiaries. However, Tennessee also has alternative processes, which can take less time and be less expensive. For example, there is a small estate administration for people who die with under $50,000 in personal property. You can also choose the alternative of probating a will for muniment of title, which takes less time than traditional probate does. Randy Ratliff is an experienced Nashville estate planning attorney who can represent you in this procedure in Davidson or Williamson County.

Muniment of Title

Even when a will exists, and the potential heirs and beneficiaries agree that it is valid, probate is a complex process. The probate process involves notice to creditors, and there is a mandatory period that must pass before the finalization of the estate. The estate itself may be complicated and will include any of the decedent's assets that did not pass automatically to surviving family members. When there is no will, the process is more complicated.

Each estate is different, and the appropriate handling of the estate after a decedent's death depends in part on the contents of the estate. Only assets that are held solely in the decedent's name must go through probate administration. When an asset has a listed beneficiary or is owned jointly, the asset can avoid probate, and instead the transfer happens automatically. When people die, they often leave behind a variety of assets that must be distributed appropriately.

When an estate is fully probated, beneficiaries take title to the decedent's assets. These assets may include a house, vacation property, a bank account, cars, and other personal property. A transfer is initiated when a petition is filed with the court alongside a will or heir's statement. The court will issue letters testamentary to a personal representative to handle the administration of the estate. Administration can involve paying debts and taxes, as well as distributing the assets that are left according to the rules of intestacy or the will. Often, this process takes a long time and requires assistance by an attorney.

When a will is probated instead for muniment of title, the process is shorter. You can only probate for muniment of title when the beneficiary is transferring only real estate, and there is a valid and enforceable will. When these elements exist, you can petition for probate of a will for muniment of title and include the valid will. The petition is supposed to set forth basic information about the person who died and the will itself.

During the muniment of title process, the court will evaluate whether the will is valid and enforceable. However, it will not issue letters testamentary, and it will not oversee the administration of the estate. If the will is valid, ownership of the real property is transferred to the beneficiary. The whole process can take just a day, and for a beneficiary, this can be a huge help because the probate process is so much longer.

The muniment of title process only deals with real estate. It is not used when an estate is mixed, such as when the decedent leaves both a house and a bank account. When a will is probated for muniment of title, and it includes something other than real property, the other assets will not be transferred. When a beneficiary is only interested in transferring real property ownership, such as when only real estate is left or the other assets were handled through the creation of a trust, this may be a suitable approach. In that situation, after the trustor's death, the trustee will finally distribute the assets identified in the trust. However, if there are assets worth more than $25,000, and the estate of the decedent is mixed, beneficiaries must go through a full probate process.

Seek Guidance from a Nashville Lawyer Regarding Your Estate

If you are interested in considering muniment of title as an estate planning tool, you should contact experienced Nashville attorney Randy Ratliff. He also represents clients, both testators and beneficiaries, who need guidance regarding wills or trusts in other areas of Davidson and Williamson Counties, including Brentwood, Goodlettsville, Joelton, Franklin, Cool Springs, Antioch, Hermitage, and Madison. Contact us by calling 615-656-8282 or using our online form.