Montana Probate Attorneys

Probate is the legal process of passing property on after a person's death. If that person left a will, we follow the instructions they left. If they died without a will, what is called intestate in Montana, we distribute their property in the manner set by Montana law.

That legal description ignores the reality that these are real lives and real families trying to cope with tragedy. At Measure Law, we recognize that probate is a foreign process forced on people at the worst possible time. For that reason, we strive to make the process as simple, affordable, and quick as possible.

Probate has a bad name, a reputation which isn't entirely deserved. The law, especially in Montana, has been changed to correct many of the abuses which plagued probate administration in the past. Where it used to be very expensive, fees for probate are now capped by statute for both the Personal Representative and the attorneys involved. Also, the Montana Supreme Court takes an active role to ensure that probates are finished in a timely manner.

Informal Probate

In most cases, Montana law allows for informal probate of an estate. This means that the Court is not involved in the decisions and actions of the Personal Representative (sometimes referred to as the executor). Because the process can be accomplished without constant appearances in Court, it is possible to complete the probate more quickly and more affordably.

The process of informal probate can be started as quickly as 120 hours after a person's death. The papers are brought to the Clerk of Court who opens the probate. This speeds the process considerably because the Personal Representative and probate lawyers do not need to wait for a judge and appear in Court.

Formal Probate

In some cases, it is still necessary to directly involve the Court with a probate. Most often, this happens with a person dies without a will, or with a holographic (or handwritten) will. In formal probate, proceedings are held before a Montana District Court Judge in the County where the probate is being administered. Many actions will require an appearance before the judge, and an order from the Court approving the proposed action. Although a bit more onerous, Formal Probate can be managed and still remain a straight-forward and affordable process

Collection of Property by Affidavit

In some cases, it is not necessary to open a probate at all. If the total value of the estate is less than $50,000 an heir may collect the property using an affidavit. Obviously, this greatly simplifies the process and can be the quickest way to accomplish a disbursement of property after death.

Personal Representative

The personal representative, sometimes referred to as the executor, is the person responsible for collecting the property of an estate, assuring that creditors are taken care of, and then distributing the remaining property to the proper heirs. Usually, the Personal Representative is named in a will.

In the case that someone dies without a will, Montana law establishes a hierarchy of persons who may become the Personal Representative. The first person on that list willing to do the job is appointed P.R. When working with a probate law firm like Measure Law, P.C., the Personal Representative's job is mostly handled by attorneys. This is a good thing, as probating an estate can be confusing and time consuming.