Estate Planning

Estate Planning in the State of Montana

Information Website:

Dying Without a Will Website: This website walks you through how your estate will be handled if you do not have a will.

Accessing a Deceased Person’s Financial Accounts: Describes how heirs of a deceased person can access his/her financial accounts, depending on whether the accounts were owned jointly with other individuals, had payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designations, or had no designated beneficiary.

Beneficiary Deeds in Montana: Explains how Beneficiary deeds allow owners of real property in Montana to transfer their property to one or more beneficiaries without probate.

Custodial Accounts for Kids Under Age 21 Describes how a parent or other adult can make gifts of assets during life, bequests with a will, or distributions from a trust for the benefit of a child who is under 21.

Designating Beneficiaries through Contractual Arrangements: Focuses on transferring assets through contractual arrangements, such as those commonly found with insurance policies, IRAs and employee benefit plans.

Dying Without a Will in Montana:  Who Receives Your Property?: Includes legal terms and detailed examples of possible scenarios for distribution of property should a person die before writing a will.

Estate Planning for Families with Minor and/or Special Needs Children Explains how to provide for children’s physical and financial care in case of parents’ death. Includes special instructions concerning special needs children and stepchildren.

Estate Planning in Montana: Getting Started:Explains how–and why—to arrange for the future use and distribution of your property.

Federal Estate Tax: This publication describes how federal tax laws affect individual estates, including changes resulting from The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. The estate tax section of the Act titled “Temporary Estate Tax Relief” contains provisions that apply during 2011 and 2012.

Gifting:  A Property Transfer Tool of Estate Planning: This MontGuide explains how to use laws that allow gifts of real and personal property to reduce federal income taxes, federal gift taxes and potential federal estate taxes. Included are changes resulting from The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.

Letter of Last Instructions: Explains what should be included in a letter of last instructions to assist survivors after the death of the writer.

Life Insurance: An Estate Planning Tool : Explains when life insurance should be part of a family’s estate plan.

Montana’s End-of-Life Registry: Answers commonly asked questions about the Montana End-of-Life Registry

Montana Rights of the Terminally Ill Act: Describes how a person can choose to terminate his/her medical treatment, should the person have an incurable and irreversible condition that would lead to death without treatment.

Nonprobate Transfers: Describes the various forms of ownership that allow the deceased’s property to bypass probate and transfer directly to beneficiaries.

Power of Attorney: Explains how to give another person authority to make financial decisions for you through a legal document known as a power of attorney. Information about the Montana Uniform Power of Attorney Act that was passed by the 2011 Montana Legislature is provided. Features of the new Statutory Power of Attorney form are also explained.

Probate in Montana: Provides guidelines and costs for the process of settling the estate of a deceased person. (2009)

Property Ownership: Describes the three main forms of property ownership, plus real-life examples of estate settlement for each.

Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment: Gives control over medical treatments near the end of life. Once signed by you and your physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, the POLST form is recognized as an actual medical order that will be honored by all Montana health care providers.

Revocable Living Trusts: Defines and explains the benefits, shortfalls, costs and tax consequences of living trusts, including how it may affect nursing home care costs.

Settling an Estate: What Do I Need to Know: Designed to help survivors start the process of settling an estate and ease the burden following the death of a loved one. It discusses tasks in the order they are commonly completed.

Transferring Your Farm or Ranch to the Next Generation: Includes sections on starting a conversation with family members who are in denial or reluctant to discuss the situation; how to pinpoint your own and family members’ expectations; identifying what is important to each generation; and options for ownership. Several worksheets are included to help both parents and adult children identify their goals and expectations.

Transferring Your Farm or Ranch to the Next Generation Through a QTIP Trust: Examines concerns you may have, presents important considerations and explores several available options of how to pass on your farm or ranch, or other property to your spouse or children.

Using a Bypass Trust to Provide for Children from a Prior Marriage: Explains how a bypass trust can help you create a plan to effectively pass your property along to the people you want, the way you want.

What Are Your Rights Over Your Remains?: The 2009 legislature passed the Montana Right of Disposition Act that allows a person to provide instructions for disposing of his or her remains or to designate an agent with authority to make such decisions.

Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate? Transferring Non-Titled Property: Explains how to deal with some of the issues that may arise with the transfer of non-titled property such as photographs and other family heirlooms among family members.

Wills: Outlines why and how to construct a will, including costs, restrictions and changes after its completion.


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