Montana’s Probate Process

We advise clients on matters related to the estate administration process. The complicated issues and problems that arise after the death of a family member or friend can be overwhelming.  We have attorneys who assist and advise on Montana’s probate process.  We have provided a general summary below to help inform you about Montana’s probate process.  Please contact one of our capable attorneys if you desire specific information about legal issues currently facing you or your family.

Montana law provides a legal administrative process for wrapping up decedents affairs regardless of whether the person died with or without a Will.  This process is generally termed “Probate.”  Administering an estate through this probate process can be relatively simple and straightforward.  On the other hand, probate can also be challenging, lengthy, and ripe with legal issues.  Regardless of the complexity, the probate process ensures that property of the deceased is accounted for, debts and taxes are paid or disposed of, and any remaining property is properly disbursed.

Montana has adopted the Uniform Probate Code or UPC.  The UPC lays out the different laws that must be adhered to when probating an estate.  The probate process in Montana generally occurs in one of four ways.  A person can die testate (with a Will) or intestate (without a Will).  The probate proceeding can be formal (court supervision) or informal (without direct court supervision but rather through the Clerk of Court).  Other ways of administrating estates also exist and may be useful depending on the circumstances.

Probate generally occurs when the decedent had estate assets (property interests owned by a deceased on the date of death) in his or her name alone.  Because the individual is no longer available to transfer property to others, the court will appoint an individual to be the Personal Representative (PR) of the estate to act in the place and stead of the decedent.  The PR holds a high calling of accountability in execution of this appointment and is charged with making sure that the probate process is done correctly and that the affairs of the deceased are completed in accordance with Montana law.  A person is generally appointed PR based on being named to that position in the decedent’s Will or is appointed by the court in instances where no Will exists and law establishes their priority status.  We work closely with the PR throughout the probate process.

A broad view of the main steps involved in the probate process include the filing of necessary initial documents to open an estate and get a PR appointed, preparing notices to interested persons regarding the proceedings, gathering estate assets and potentially liquidating the same, conducting an inventory and appraisal of the assets, dealing with creditor claims and tax issues, providing accountings to the court, and ensuring the assets are properly distributed.

As can you see, having a lawyer assist with questions regarding estate administration can be invaluable.  ANGEL, COIL & BARTLETT has attorneys who can provide assistance with the probate procedure and will guide you through the legal process.

Contact the probate and estate attorneys at Angel Coil & Bartlett today for an initial consultation. (406) 586-1926.

Angel, Coil & Bartlett attorneys standing outside the courthouse in Bozeman, MT

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