What is Estate Planning & Who Needs it?
Updated: Apr 16
Estate Planning is the process of setting out your wishes for the distribution of your assets upon your death, and implementing strategies to ensure that your wishes are carried out to the fullest extent possible. Anyone who wants to control the distribution of their assets, the guardianship of their minor children, provide for charitable causes, or reduce estate taxes needs estate planning can benefit from estate planning.
Estate planning can be utilized to accomplish goals ranging from complex tax planning to simple distributions to children. However, it is best accomplished as a team, where you, your attorney, financial, and your family can work together to create a complete picture of your goals and implement the best strategies to meet those goals.
What happens without a Will or Trust Montana?
Without estate planning, or a Will or Trust, Montana state law controls the distribution of assets upon your death. These laws are known as the laws of intestate succession. Without a valid Will or Trust you do not have control of who receives which assets, nor do you have control over the selection of guardians for minor children, or how those children will receive their inheritance.
For example, if you are married without children, or all of your children are from you and your spouse together, then upon your death your spouse will receive your entire estate. However, if you die leaving a spouse and children who do not belong to your surviving spouse, then surviving spouse is entitled to receive a $100,000 plus ½ of the remaining estate and the child is entitled to receive ½ the remaining estate. It is important to note that intestacy laws change, and unless you want to constantly keep up with current laws, it is a good idea to have a valid Montana Will or Trust.
However, if you have a valid Montana Will or Trust in place, you can decide who receives your assets, how much, and when they receive those assets. This means that you can provide for different distribution amounts to different children. With a valid Will or Trust, you can distribute specific assets to other friends, family members or charities. You may also decide to disinherit a child, limit the amount a child receives from your estate, or place their inheritance in a separate trust to be managed by someone else. Basically, a Will or Trust lets you determine who receives your property and does not leave it up to state law.
Proper estate planning is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your loved ones. It is important to work with an attorney that can take the time to understand your long-term goals and draft a Will or Trust that will address your family’s unique needs.
If you have questions about estate planning or would like assistance with a Will or Trust, please call my office to schedule a consultation at 406-752-6373.