Montana Probate Estate

The probate process has been made easier in Montana with the adoption of the Uniform Probate Code (UPC). An estate can be administered a number of ways: informal proceedings, formal proceedings and supervised administration. These processes require four months’ notice to creditors to file claims for their debts. Small estates can be handled through the Collection of Personal Property by Affidavit or the small estate procedure.

A Montana Will must be probated in Montana within 3 years of the testator’s death; exceptions apply. 72-3-122

Delivering the Will

The person who has custody of the original Montana Last Will must deliver it to the executor or to the appropriate court with reasonable promptness. If they wilfully fail to do so, they will be liable to any person who suffers damages as a result. 72-2-536

Informal Proceedings

This procedure is used where an original Will exists. If it appears that the Montana Will was signed and witnessed properly, then the clerk may probate the Will and appoint a personal representative. 72-3-213

Formal Proceedings

Any interested person may file formal testacy proceedings to determine whether a decedent left a valid Montana Last Will and Testament. It is used where there is no Will, if it has been lost, when its validity is questioned or when parties dispute the distribution of assets or appointment of a personal representative. Notice must be given to all other interested persons, including persons who would benefit under intestacy rules, beneficiaries named in the will and creditors. A hearing will be set down before a district court judge. 72-3-302

Small Estates

Transfer by Affidavit:
If the value of the estate is $50,000 or less and constitutes only personal property, then a successor of the Montana Will may file an affidavit to claim the decedent’s estate. This application cannot be filed within 30 days of the death. It is available whether the person died with or without a Will. 72-3-101

Summary Administration:
Wills need not be probated if the entire estate is under a certain amount. The amount is the sum of $20,000 homestead allowance, $10,000 exempt property, $18,000 family allowance, reasonable administration, funeral and medical/hospital costs and expenses of the decedent’s last illness. The personal representative can administer the estate immediately and then file a closing sworn statement with the court. There is no need for notice to creditors. 72-3-1103

Comments are closed.