Estate Planning Publications
In today's complicated society all families, regardless of their resources and ages, can benefit from overall financial planning--one aspect of which is estate planning.
The following estate planning publications were created at Montana State University by Marsha A. Goetting (Extension Family Economics Specialist), Joel Schumacher (Extension Economics Associate Specialist), and Tim Fitzgerald (Former Assistant Professor-Agricultural Economics).
The MontGuides have been reviewed by professionals from the appropriate organizations: Business, Estates, Trusts, Tax, and Real Property Law Section (State Bar of Montana); Montana Society of Certified Public Accountants, Office of Consumer Protection, and Alexander Blewett III School of Law, University of Montana.
- Accessing a Deceased Person's Financial Accounts. (MT200301HR) (2012)
Describes how heirs of a deceased person can access his/her financial accounts, depending on whether the accounts were owned jointly with other individuals, had payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designations, or had no designated beneficiary.
- Annuities. (MT199213HR) (2013)
Outlines how to shop for and choose an annuity and how one can help individuals achieve retirement and estate planning goals.
- Beneficiary Deeds in Montana. (MT200707HR) (2016)
Explains how Beneficiary deeds allow owners of real property in Montana to transfer their property to one or more beneficiaries without probate.
- Beneficiary Deed (WORD)
- Revocation of Beneficiary Deed (PDF)
- Affidavit of Death for Beneficiary Deed (PDF)
- Using a Bypass Trust to Provide for Children from Remarried, Step, and Blended Families. (MT201407HR) (2014)
Explores important issues for Montana families and remarried, step and blended families that bring varying challenges to the estate planning process.
- Montana Common Law Marriage & Estate Planning (MT201408HR) (2014)
Explores Montana common law marriages from an estate planning perspective. Topics include: The definition of common law marriage, what establishes a common law marriage, what documentation is necessary for a common law marriage, and what amount the surviving spouse of a common law marriage inherits.
- Cremation. (MT200201HR) (2012)
Explores personal and family concerns, state and federal regulations, and costs of cremation.
- Custodial Accounts for Children Under Age 21 (See MontGuide "Montana Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)"
- Designating Beneficiaries through Contractual Arrangements. (MT199901HR) (2017)
Focuses on transferring assets through contractual arrangements, such as those commonly found with insurance policies, IRAs and employee benefit plans.
- Dying Without a Will in Montana: Who Receives Your Property? (MT198908HR) (2014)
Includes legal terms and detailed examples of possible scenarios for distribution of property should a person die before writing a will.
- Dying Without a Will in Montana CD. Who receives your property if you pass away without a written will? Use this CD
to discover how your property will be distributed under Montana law if you are a Montana
resident and if you pass away without a written will (as do 7 out of 10 Americans).
- Estate Planning for Families with Minor and/or Special Needs Children. (MT199117HR) (2012)
Explains how to provide for children's physical and financial care in case of parents' death. Includes special instructions concerning special needs children and stepchildren.
- Estate Planning in Montana: Getting Started. (MT199508HR) (2010)
Explains how--and why---to arrange for the future use and distribution of your property.
- Estate Planning: The Basics (EB0144) ($10.00). (2014)
Packet includes 18 guides to estate planning issues to help readers understand and use the information in planning for their own estate distribution. Also additional topics of interest may be ordered without charge.
- Estate Planning Tools for Owners of Pets & Companion Animals or Service Animals. (MT201405HR) (2014)
Outlines legal options for owners who plan to name a caregiver for their companion animals, service animals and/or pets in case of the owner’s death or incapacitation.
- Federal Estate Tax. (MT199104HR) (2017)
This publication describes how federal tax laws affect individual estates, including changes resulting from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
- Gifting: A Property Transfer Tool of Estate Planning. (MT199105HR ) (2017)
This MontGuide explains how to use laws that allow gifts of real and personal property to reduce federal income taxes, federal gift taxes and potential federal estate taxes. Included are changes resulting from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
- Glossary of Estate Planning Terms. (MT200202HR) (2017)
Provides definitions of some of the estate planning terms used in MSU Extension Estate Planning MontGuides. Keep this glossary close by in case you come across an unfamiliar term.
- Letter of Last Instructions. (MT198904HR) (2011)
Explains what should be included in a letter of last instructions to assist survivors after the death of the writer.
- Letter of Last Instructions Worksheet: (2010) A worksheet to fill in the necessary information to help prepare the Letter
of Last Instructions that pertains to your situation.(WORD File)
- Letter of Last Instructions Worksheet: (2010) A worksheet to fill in the necessary information to help prepare the Letter of Last Instructions that pertains to your situation.(WORD File)
- Life Estate: A Useful Estate Planning Tool. (MT200510HR) (2015)
Explains how to allow someone to possess property during his/her lifetime before the estate passes on to another person or organization.
- Life Insurance: An Estate Planning Tool. (MT199211HR) (2017)
Explains when life insurance should be part of a family's estate plan.
- Long-Term Care Partnership Insurance in Montana (MT201202HR) (2014)
Provides basic information about the Montana long-term care partnership insurance program, tax benefits, and shopping tips.
- Medicaid and Long-Term Care Costs. (MT199511HR) (2015)
Outlines the legal and tax ramifications, as well as impacts on emotional and physical health of financing long-term care.
- Montana's End-of-Life Registry. (MT200602HR) (2014)
Answers commonly asked questions about the Montana End-of-Life Registry.
- Montana Rights of the Terminally Ill Act. (MT199202HR) (2016)
Describes how a person can choose to terminate his/her medical treatment, should the person have an incurable and irreversible condition that would lead to death without treatment.
- Montana Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA): Custodial Accounts for Children Under
Allows for a custodial account as one alternative for a parent or other adult who wants to make gifts of assets during life, bequests with a will, or distributions from a trust for the benefit of a child who is under 21 years of age.
- Nonprobate Transfers. (MT199509HR) (2011)
Describes the various forms of ownership that allow the deceased's property to bypass probate and transfer directly to beneficiaries.
- Personal Representative. (MT199008HR) (2016)
Explains Montana law covering personal representatives in settling estates (often called "executor" in other states).
- POLST (See "Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment")
- Power of Attorney. (MT199001HR) (2013)
Explains how to give another person authority to make financial decisions for you through a legal document known as a power of attorney. Information about the Montana Uniform Power of Attorney Act that was passed by the 2011 Montana Legislature is provided. Features of the new Statutory Power of Attorney form are also explained.
- Probate in Montana. (MT199006HR) (2016)
Provides guidelines and costs for the process of settling the estate of a deceased person.
- Property Ownership. (MT198907HR) (2015)
Describes the three main forms of property ownership, plus real-life examples of estate settlement for each.
- Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). (MT201112HR) (2014)
Gives control over medical treatments near the end of life. Once signed by you and your physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, the POLST form is recognized as an actual medical order that will be honored by all Montana health care providers.
- Revocable Living Trusts. (MT199612HR) (2017)
Defines and explains the benefits, shortfalls, costs and tax consequences of living trusts, including how it may affect nursing home care costs.
- Selecting an Organizational Structure for Your Business. (MT199708HR) (2013)
Describes the various types of business structure: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and limited liability corporation.
- Settling an Estate: What Do I Need to Know. (MT201004HR) (2010)
Designed to help survivors start the process of settling an estate and ease the burden following the death of a loved one. It discusses tasks in the order they are commonly completed.
- Transferring a Montana Vehicle Title After the Death of an Owner (MT201613HR) (2016)
Describes how to transfer a Certificate of Title, also known as the title, for a motor vehicle to the deceased's legal heirs.
- Transferring Real Property Owned in a Joint Tenancy or in a Life Estate Without Probate
Describes the process when real property is owned as joint tenants or is subject to a life estate, the distribution method is determined by Montana Law.
- Transferring Your Farm or Ranch to the Next Generation. (EB 149) (2014)
Includes sections on starting a conversation with family members who are in denial or reluctant to discuss the situation; how to pinpoint your own and family members' expectations; identifying what is important to each generation; and options for ownership. Several worksheets are included to help both parents and adult children identify their goals and expectations.
- What Are Your Rights Over Your Remains? (MT200918HR) (2017)
The 2009 legislature passed the Montana Right of Disposition Act that allows a person to provide instructions for disposing of his or her remains or to designate an agent with authority to make such decisions.
- Sample Affidavit (PDF)
- Sample Affidavit (PDF)
- Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate? Transferring Non-Titled Property. (MT199701HR) (2011)
Explains how to deal with some of the issues that may arise with the transfer of non-titled property such as photographs and other family heirlooms among family members.
- Wills. (MT198906HR) (2012)
Outlines why and how to construct a will, including costs, restrictions and changes after its completion.
Mineral, Oil, Gas, Leasing
- Energy Website
- Understanding Mineral Rights (MT201207HR) (2012)
Designed to help land and mineral owners understand mineral rights. Understanding what mineral property is, how it is defined, what a mineral interest is, and some of the basic rules associated with mineral ownership are fundamental to understanding the process of mineral development and its effects on land that you may own or have an interest in.
- Oil and Gas Leasing (MT201209HR) (2012)
Intended to help land and mineral owners understand the oil and gas leasing process. Other mineral property, such as coal or hardrock minerals, may be leased as well, but those substances may require slightly different lease terms. Even though oil and gas resources vary around the state, the terms of leases are similar.
- Owning Leased Oil and Gas (MT201208HR) (2012)
Helps you understand what to expect from the time you sign a lease until you start receiving royalty checks, if and when your oil and gas minerals are produced.