Wills & Probate

Everyone should have a Will because it tells your friends and family what you want them to do upon your passing and insures your directives are followed.  If you do not have a Will, the State of Montana through statutes, dictates to your friends and family how to distribute your assets and that is very often not in accordance with your wishes.

A Will secures your wishes today, but can be easily changed in the future as your needs change.  Wills are not expensive and most people experience profound peace of mind once they have their Will in place.

Other documents you should have:  a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

  • A Living Will tells your doctor that if you are living solely due to machines and the prospects for recovery are slim to none, it is your directive to remove the machines and provide comfort care and let nature run its course.
  • The Durable Power of Attorney authorizes your agent to do business on your behalf when you are unable.
  • The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care gives authority to your agent to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to tell the doctors what you want.

Probate is the process of settling the debts of the deceased and distributing assets in accordance with the Will under the supervision of the court.  Probate is not expensive unless the Will is disputed, but those are rare cases despite what is published in the media.

Probate is nothing to fear or worry about.  Many assets can be passed outside of probate and your attorney can help you decide how to approach probate depending upon your individual circumstances.

Here are five real life situations that a Will can solve for you:

  1. My name is Mike and I am 46. I have one 16 year old daughter and I am not married. My daughter’s mother and I are divorced and my daughter lives with her and her two other children in another state. I currently live with my girlfriend in my home and we own and run a business together. I am worried that my girlfriend’s contribution to our home and business will not be protected and that my daughter’s inheritance will be shared with her two siblings.
  2. My name is Alice and I am 65. I am married but have not seen my husband in 15 years. I do not know where he is or how to find him. I have three children who are all grown. I currently own a home but have very few other assets. One of my children encouraged me to rent out my home and live with her. Now she is kicking me out and threatening to take everything that I have. All of my furniture and things are locked in her house. I want to make sure she and my husband get nothing in my will.
  3. My name is Mary. I am 43 and have two children. I am not married but I am living with the father of both of my children. I own our home in my own name and I have substantial assets in my own name. My partner also owns a business and has assets in his name. I want to make sure that if something happens to me, they can remain in the home but if my partner marries after my death, my assets are protected from his new spouse and any children she or they may have.
  4. My name is Dan and I have a wife and two young children. I am very concerned about my family being involved in our children’s lives if something happens to both of us, they cannot have custody or be responsible for the money or assets we have.
  5. My name is Betty and I am 67. I have a husband and four children. My husband has been an alcoholic his whole life and has a child born during our marriage that is not mine. I want to make sure that none of my assets go to that child.