Question Details: My mother-in-law recently passed away. She had a will leaving everything to my wife. All cash assets were in joint accounts.(wife and mother). The only asset that is still in my mother-in-laws name is a small amount of Sun Oil Co. stock. Is there a way to get this in my wife's name without probate?
In Texas, if the decedent had a will but few assets, or assets that do not require a lot of work in transferring - then the will can be probated as a "muniment of title". This is a simpler and cheaper alternative to formal administration of an estate.
However, this procedure will only be allowed by the court when the applicant can show that (1) the estate has no unpaid debts, excluding debts secured by liens on real estate, and (2) there is no necessity for administration (for example, all beneficiaries agree to this). The will must still be proved valid at a hearing before the court; however, no executor will be appointed. In probating a Will as a muniment of title, it is suggested you utilize an attorney; there are certain complexities to all of this that they will best be able to handle.
If you are dealing with stocks and bonds (tyour case here), and a transfer agent will only accept letters testamentary rather than an order from a court certified that the beneficiaries in the Will are the only distributees of the estate, then you may not be able to utilize the muniment of title process. In addition, if there are numerous debts of the estate, an administration is the only alternative.
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