Think about a married couple. When the first spouse dies, often the vast majority of assets are titled in both of their names. Therefore, everything passes to the surviving spouse without probate. However, what if the deceased spouse owned a piece of land with which the other spouse has never had any involvement. What if the only thing that needs to be distributed in a decedent's estate is real estate? Do you have to go through the entire probate process? Can you just sign some type of Deed? Short answer to those questions: No and no. Thankfully, in Tennessee we have a procedure that is specifically designed to deal with transferring real estate from a decedent's name into the correct beneficiary's name. It is called Probate for Muniment of Title.
This type of limited probate process is basically three steps, but there are some important keys to remember. Probate of any type is much simpler when there is an original will. Therefore, you would start by locating the original will and an original death certificate. Once you have located those and determined that the only asset to be distributed is real estate, you would contact an attorney (at Tressler & Associates, of course) to take you through the Muniment of Title procedures. We would start the process by filing a Petition for Muniment of Title with the Probate Court's office and a hearing would be set. Notice would be sent to all beneficiaries and heirs-at-law that this hearing is occurring. Assuming all goes according to plan, the Judge will sign the Order at the hearing. Once the Order is signed, it will be recorded at the Register of Deeds. This recording will serve as evidence of the transfer of title.
Although probate in Tennessee is a relatively streamlined process, we are thankful that there is an even more streamlined process for this particular issue. Should you need assistance in transferring real estate out of a decedent's name, please give us a call and we will be glad to help.
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