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You don’t need to be an expert to manage a loved one’s probate but it helps to not have to do it alone.

Probate • Estates • Civil Litigation • Wills • Trusts

Probate

Measure Law has the best probate lawyers for: 
  • Transferring Property

  • Acting out the wishes in a will

  • If there is no will in place, acting according to Montana state law

Get in touch today.

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KELLY O'BRIEN

With more than 20 years as an estate planning and probate attorney, Kelly is an expert guide in wills, probate, individual and family trusts, complex estate transactions, and estate appeals.

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I help my clients see a bigger picture when it comes to building their legacies, and I stay with them on the journey.

ERIKA JOHNSON

Erika’s 20 years of expertise in probate, wills, individual and family trusts, as well as trusts for children with special needs provide diverse solutions for her clients.

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Putting all the pieces together is my specialty. I help guide my clients to the best outcomes in all areas of estate planning.

Starting Probate

The word “probate” has entered your life. Someone you love or who has trusted you as a steward of their estate has died, and it is now time to settle what remains. 

Measure Law attorneys can help you understand Montana probate, answer common questions, and execute your probate.

Probate Defined

Probate is the legal process of transferring property after an owner's death, acting out the wishes in a will, and if there isn’t a will in place, according to state law.  

 

Is probate required?

Whether or not probate is required depends on one thing, the title of assets, namely property and bank accounts. This is anything owned by someone individually, without a beneficiary. 

 

While it’s not always obvious if an estate will require probate, here are a few examples:

 

Probate is NOT Required

The deceased’s home, which has a title in both spouse’s names and with rights of survivorship, is not subject to probate. The survivor simply takes on the title of the property after recording an affidavit in the county property records.

 

A bank account where an individual named specific beneficiaries upon their death does not require probate. 

 

Probate IS Required

A residential property owned by a single individual is subject to a probate proceeding.

 

Any account that is not either jointly held, or set up with designated beneficiaries is subject to probate. An exception to this rule applies for estates less than $50,000.00 in total assets value. 
 

If you don’t have clarity on whether or not probate will be required, don’t worry. It’s our job to be the experts on probate, not yours. Call Measure Law. We are here to be the experts...so you can focus on living.

What Happens Without a Will? 

The short answer is this: in Montana if you die without a will, your assets are distributed according to a priority under state law known as “intestate succession.” 

 

Montana law sets out specific requirements for intestate succession, but in general, if you are survived by a spouse, your spouse will receive 100% of your estate. 

 

However, if you have children from a prior marriage then it gets more complicated. 

 

And If you are not married at the time of death, then the assets are distributed to children, parents, or more remote heirs based on a priority set by Montana law. 

 

Since a personal representative is not named without a will, choosing one is also based on a priority of Montana law. The surviving spouse typically has first priority, then adult children, and so on.  

 

Remember, you don’t have to be the expert on this. Call Measure Law if you have any questions, 406-752-6373.

 

If There is a Will:


In an ideal world, your loved one or partner has outlined their wishes in a legal will.

 

It is important to locate the original will and not a copy, as the personal representative must file the original will with the probate court. 

 

The will names a “personal representative” or executor of the estate. This is the individual who is responsible for administering the probate process, possibly you.

 

The will also sets out the distribution of the estate assets.

Ready to Begin - a Probate Checklist

Once you are ready to begin the probate process, here is a checklist of items you will need to bring to your attorney if you are the personal representative, or assisting the personal representative.

  • A copy of the death certificate, usually obtained by the funeral home.

  • The original will, if there is one.

  • Contact information for all of the people, businesses, and/or organizations named in the will

  • Copies of deeds for real estate

  • Copies of the most current bank statements, investment accounts, etc. 

  • Vehicle titles

  • A personal property list, if the decedent left one

  • Information regarding any out of state assets 

  • Information on known debts or claims against the deceased

If after reading all of this you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember, probate is a process and the first step is simply starting.

If you’re not sure what the next right step is, call Measure Law, we’ll navigate your probate together, 406-752-6373.