Transferring Real Estate


What happens with a person dies and they own just real estate in their name? Fortunately, Tennessee law allows for the transfer and re-titling of this property into the names of the beneficiaries of the will or heirs of the estate. If there is a will, this type of property transfers can be accomplished by filing for a "muniment of title." If there is not a will, the real estate can be passed by an instrument called an "affidavit of heirship." Here is how it all works:

Muniment of Title

Probating a will to establish muniment of title is a useful form of probate to transfer real property when that property is the only asset of the deceased when he died. To file a muniment of title petition, there must be no other substantial asset that the decedent owned at his death. So there cannot be any bank accounts, retirement accounts, or any other such assets in the decedent's name only. Additionally, the deceased must have a will at his death. You cannot file for a muniment of title if there is not a will. Here is an example of how a muniment of title works:

Father dies owning two parcels of real property deeded in his name only. Father owns no other assets. He does have a will that leaves one parcel to his daughter and the other to his son. His executor could take the will and file for a muniment of title with the court. Once the court issues an order approving the muniment of title, the order is filed with the Register of Deeds office. This establishes his children as owners of their respective properties. Note that the only assets that go through this limited form of probate is real property. So if David had real estate and a bank account with $100,000.00 that would require an actual estate to be opened with the probate court.

Requirements for a muniment of title are:

  • The person who died must have owned real property at his death
  • The real property must be the only asset(s) that the deceased owned, excluding personal property
  • The deceased must have a validly executed will

Affidavit of Heirship

An affidavit of heirship is the simplest way of transferring real property after a person has passed away. When a person dies in Tennessee without a will, real estate immediately vests in the heirs of the decedent. The affidavit of heirship is essentially a notice that is filed with the Register of Deeds stating who the new owners of the property are. There is no need to file any action with the probate court to complete an affidavit of heirship. It is important for the attorney to prepare a TennCare release, especially if you are planning to sell the property that was inherited.

Questions About Real Estate After Death?

If a family member has recently passed away owning real property, there may not be a need for a full probate administration. Instead, Tennessee law allows for the filing of a muniment of title and an affidavit of heirship to transfer property. If you are facing a situation in which these seem like the solution to your problem, give us a call. We are happy to answer any questions about these matters. 

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