Wills - Trusts - Powers of Attorney - Estate Planning - Probate

Power of Attorney

Financial Power of Attorney, forms and instructions from the Montana DPHHS, Legal Service Developer Program

Health Care Power of Attorney, forms and instructions from MSU Extension

Power of Attorney for Care, Custody, and Control of a Minor Child

Estate Planning

Last Will and Testament, forms and instructions from the Montana DPHHS, Legal Service Developer Program 

Optional Form of Transfer on Death Deed, MCA 72-6-415

Homestead Declaration

Declaration of Homestead Abandonment

Probate
Unsure where to start? Try our Probate Questionnaire for general guidance on which process may be appropriate for your situation.
 

Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of Decedent

Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property Packet

How to Administer a Small Estate Packet

Advance Directive (Living Will)

Declaration of Living Will, forms and instructions from the Montana DPHHS, Legal Service Developer Program 

Advance Directive Packet

Other

Link to additional Sample Legal Forms for long-term planning, from the Montana DPHHS, Legal Services Developer Program

Montanans making long-term life plans have numerous laws and legal documents to consider, as well as statewide resources that may be able to help. 

Terms & Definitions

Power of Attorney refers to a written, notarized document in which one person gives another the power to conduct certain acts on his or her behalf.

Estate Planning is the legal planning process, undertaken before a person dies, to determine the distribution of money and property upon death.  Estate planning can be complicated, particularly for estates with significant assets. Common tools used in estate planning include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and living wills.

A Living Trust is a revocable legal arrangement, created during an individual's life that can be changed and terminated at any time. Under a living trust, an individual transfers ownership of assets to a trustee who manages the assets for the beneficiaries designated in the trust agreement.

Advance Directives (Living Wills), created under the "Montana Rights of the Terminally Ill Act" (also known as the Montana Living Will Act) allow individuals the maximum possible control over their own medical care and inevitable death. It allows an individual to declare their intent not to have life sustaining treatment which only prolongs the process of dying.

Guardianship is a legal relationship, pursuant to testamentary or court appointment, of a qualified individual and a minor or incapacitated person. The purpose of guardianship is to promote and protect the well-being of the person and may be ordered only to the extent that the person’s actual mental and physical limitations require it.

Under a Conservatorship, the court appoints someone to manage the estate of a protected person.  

Probate 

Probate refers to the process of settling the estate of a deceased person, including gathering and managing property, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to appropriate parties. In situations where the person who died left a will, property is distributed as designated. For situations of no will or a defective will, property is distributed to heirs according to the law. 

The powers and duties involved in the probate process are generally held by a personal representative (also referred to as an administrator or executor).

Montana law provides for both informal and formal probate proceedings.  Factors for determining the appropriate probate process for an estate include the value of the estate and whether the decedent left a valid will.  

MCA Title 50, Chapter 9. Rights of the Terminally Ill Act (Living Wills)

MCA Title 72, Chapter 2. UPC – Intestacy, Wills, and Donative Transfers (Property Distribution Without a Will)

MCA Title 72, Chapter 3. UPC – Probate and Administration

MCA Title 72, Chapter 6. Nonprobate Transfers on Death

MCA Title 72, Chapter 16, Part 9. Estate Tax 

MCA Title 72, Chapters 38. Montana Uniform Trust Code

Legal Service Providers

Legal Service Developer Program of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. 1 (800) 332-2272

The Court Help Program, for free assistance on common civil legal issues. (406) 841-2975 

Apply for Legal Services, with Montana Legal Service Association (serving low-income Montana with pressing civil legal needs).

Montana Legal Services HelpLine and Intake, available Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm: 1-800-666-6899.

Lawyer Referral Information Service, from the State Bar of Montana. (406) 449-6577

Brochures & Articles

Legal Resource for Seniors and their Families from the Legal Service Developer Program  

Life and Estate Planning, from MontanaLawHelp.org

Montana State University Extension: Estate Planning

Self-Learning Resources from Montana State University (MSU) Extension

Or, browse the MSU Extension catalog here.