Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Montana wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will) in creating valid Montana wills and in assigning a person (called the executor in most states) to administer a Montana last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements of a Montana Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years of age.
Capacity: The testator must be of sound (capable of reasoning and making decisions) mind.
Signature: A Montana last will and testament must be signed by the testator, or by another person under the testator's direction and conscious presence.
Witnesses: At least two witnesses must sign the will either after witnessing the testator sign the will, or the testator's acknowledge of the signature or of the will.
Writing: A Montana last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A Montana last will and testament may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Holographic wills: Under certain requirements provided by Montana laws, a handwritten will may be recognized. However, the legal requirements for a handwritten will are specific and need to be strictly followed in order to deem the will valid.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Montana laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
LegalZoom's Montana wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Montana wills form may be used to name an executor (also called a personal representative or administrator) to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until the estate is settled.
Our Montana wills form may also be used to pass on property to a charity.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Property owned in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship automatically passes onto the surviving owner.
A beneficiary in a life insurance policy may not be changed through a will.
If a spouse is excluded from the will, the surviving spouse may take a portion of the estate within a certain period of time as allowed by Montana laws.
Providing for Pets
Montana laws recognize trusts created to provide caretakers for pets after the death of the owner. The trust cannot be longer than 21 years in duration, and terminates when the last pet has died.
A testator may create provisions in the will (known as a pour over will or a testamentary addition to a trust) to send property (e.g. the pet) to a trust.
Legalzoom's Montana wills form gives you the choice of providing for your pets in this manner.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
A Montana will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A Montana will and testament can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Montana probate laws.
Revoking a Will
A Montana will and testament, or any part thereof, is revoked:
(a) by creating a subsequent will that revokes the previous will in part or in whole by including conflicting terms as compared to the first will; or
(b) by performing a revocatory act (includes burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, or destroying the will or any part of it) on the will if the testator performed the act with the intent and the purpose of revoking all or part of the will, or if another individual performed the act in the testator's conscious presence and by the testator's direction.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator has died, probate procedures prove the validity of the Montana last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, appoint a personal representative to administrate the will, and distribute property as designated in the Montana last will.
Montana estate taxes encompass the Federal estate tax credit, and hence no additional taxes are owed. As of 2001, Montana has repealed its inheritance tax. Within 9 months of the testator's death, an estate tax return must be filed with the Montana State Department of Revenue. The estate taxes owed from probate of your Montana last will are determined using these guidelines.
It is extremely important to make a Montana will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Montana laws.
For example, if you do not make a Montana will, your spouse will receive the entire estate (if you have no surviving children or parents).
If you make a Montana will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.