The following estate planning publications were created at Montana State University by Marsha A. Goetting (Extension Family Economics Specialist).

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.


How to Order

Estate Planning Publications can be ordered four different ways:

  1. Download publications FREE of charge by clicking on the title of the publication.
  2. Pick up publications at your local county Extension office FREE of charge.
  3. Order from MSU Extension Distribution Center by clicking Order Online after the title of publication.


    1. Accessing a Deceased Person's Financial Accounts. (MT200301HR) (2017) [Order Online]
      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.
      • Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property (WORD) (PDF) Revised March 2020

    2. Annuities. (MT199213HR) (2018) [Order Online
      Outlines how to shop for and choose an annuity and how one can help individuals achieve retirement and estate planning goals. 

    3. Beneficiary Deeds in Montana.  Beneficiary Deeds has been replaced by Transfer on Death Deeds effective October 1, 2019.  If you filed a beneficiary deed prior to October 1, 2019 the document is still legal.  You do not need to replace your beneficiary deed with a transfer on death deed. See Transfer on Death Deed

    4. Montana Body Donation Program:  A Potential Component of an Estate Plan. (MT201804HR) (2018) [Order Online]
      Some Montanans are motivated to make a body donation by the desire to make a contribution to medical education. Others donate because they want to recognize the value and importance of using bodies for education of present and future health professionals.

    5. Using a Bypass Trust to Provide for Children from Remarried, Step, and Blended Families(MT201407HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      Explores important issues for Montana families and remarried, step and blended families that bring varying challenges to the estate planning process.

    6. Montana Common Law Marriage & Estate Planning (MT201408HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      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.

      • Affidavit of Common Law Marriage (WORD) (PDF) Montana Judical Branch

    7. Cremation. (MT200201HR) (2018)  [Order Online]
      Explores personal and family concerns, state and federal regulations, and costs of cremation in Montana. 

    8. Custodial Accounts for Children Under Age 21 (See MontGuide "Montana Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)"

    9. Designating Beneficiaries through Contractual Arrangements. (MT199901HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      Focuses on transferring assets through contractual arrangements, such as those commonly found with insurance policies, individual retirement accounts and employee benefit plans. 

    10. Dying Without a Will in Montana: Who Receives Your Property? (MT198908HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      Includes legal terms and detailed examples of possible scenarios for distribution of property should a person die before writing a will in Montana. 

    11. Dying Without a Will in Montana Interactive Website
      Who receives your property if you pass away without a written will? Use this website 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). 

    12. Estate Planning for Families with Minor and/or Children with Special Needs. (MT199117HR) (2020) [Order Online
      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. 

      • Acknowledgement of Fiduciary Relationship and Obligations Personal Representative, Guardian, or Conservator (WORD) (PDF)

    13. Estate Planning in Montana: Getting Started. (MT199508HR) (2017)  [Order Online]
      Explains how--and why---to arrange for the future distribution of your property in Montana. 

    14. Estate Planning: The Basics (EB0144) ($10.00). (2020) [Order Online] 
      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.  

    15. Estate Planning Tools for Owners of Pets & Companion Animals or Service Animals. (MT201405HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      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.

      • Information about Companion or Service Animals and/or Pets for Potential Caregivers  (WORD) (PDF)

    16. Financial, Estate, and Health Care Planning Documents for Montanans Concerned About Memory Loss(MT202005HR) (2020) [Order Online]

      All Montanans should plan for the future. For those who are concerned about memory loss, completing financial, estate and health care documents is even more important. Anyone could develop some form of dementia or experience a debilitating brain injury from a stroke or accident. These events have the potential to affect one’s ability to remember, to reason, and to make decisions about finances, legacies, and health care treatments.

    17. Federal Estate Tax.  (MT199104HR) (2019)  [Order Online]
      Describes how federal tax laws affect individual estates, including changes resulting from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

    18. Gifting:  A Property Transfer Tool of Estate Planning.  (MT199105HR ) (2019)  [Order Online]
      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. 

    19. Glossary of Estate Planning Terms. (MT200202HR) (2019)  [Order Online]
      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. 

    20. Health Care Power of Attorney and Related Documents for Montanans  (EB0231)  (2020) [Order Online]
      This 24-page document explains a Health Care Power of Attorney for Montanans, and includes a worksheet and forms to appoint a health care agent(s) and assist others in understanding your health care preferences.

      • Health Care Power of Attorney Worksheet and Forms (PDF)  (2020)

    21. Letter of Last Instructions. (MT198904HR) (2017) [Order Online]
      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: (2017) A worksheet to fill in the necessary information to help prepare the Letter of Last Instructions that pertains to your situation. (WORD) (PDF

    22. RevisedLife Estate:  A Useful Estate Planning Tool. (MT200510HR) (2021) [Order Online ]
      Explains how to allow someone to possess property during his/her lifetime before the estate passes on to another person or organization. 

    23. Life Insurance: An Estate Planning Tool. (MT199211HR) (2018) [Order Online]
      Explains when life insurance should be part of a family's estate plan. 

    24. Livestock Brands in Montana: An Important Component of an Estate Plan (MT201805HR) (2020) [Order Online]
      Explains Montana brand ownership laws as they pertain to estate planning.

    25. Long-Term Care Partnership Insurance in Montana (MT201202HR) (2018)  [Order Online]
      Provides basic information about the Montana long-term care partnership insurance program, tax benefits, and shopping tips. 

    26. RevisedMedicaid and Long-Term Care Costs.  (MT199511HR) (2021) [Order Online]
      Outlines the legal and tax ramifications, as well as impacts on emotional and physical health of financing long-term care. 

    27. Montana's End-of-Life Registry. (MT200602HR) (2019)   [Order Online]
      Answers commonly asked questions about the Montana End-of-Life Registry. 

    28. Save Montana Income Taxes with a Charitable Gift Annuity:  A Legacy Qualifying for the Montana Endowment Tax Credit (METC). (MT202012HR) (2020) [Order Online
      Explains how charitable gift annuities could be used to meet both the altruistic and tax savings goals of Montanans.
    29. Montana Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.   (MT199202HR) (2018) [Order Online]
      Describes how a person can choose to terminate his/her medical treatment, should the he/she has an incurable and irreversible condition that would lead to death without treatment.

      • Declaration of Living Will (WORD) (PDF) (Montana Legal Developer, Senior and Long Term Care, DPHHS)

    30. RevisedMontana Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA): Custodial Accounts for Children Under Age 21.  [Order Online]
      (MT199910HR): (2021) 
      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. 

    31. Nonprobate Transfers. (MT199509HR) (2017) [Order Online]
      Describes the various forms of ownership Montana allows the deceased's property to bypass probate and transfer directly to beneficiaries such as payable on death designations on financial accounts and transfer on death registrations for stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. 

    32. Personal Representative Responsibilities. (MT199008HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      Explains Montana law covering personal representatives in settling estates (often called "executor" in other states). 

    33. Power of Attorney (financial) (MT199001HR) (2018) [Order Online]
      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 passed by the Montana Legislature is provided. Features of the new Statutory Power of Attorney form are also explained. 

      • Financial Power of Attorney Statutory Form and Agent Statutory Form  (WORD) (Montana Legal Developer, Senior and Long Term Care, DPHHS) (PDF)

    34. Probate in Montana. (MT199006HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      Provides guidelines and costs for the process of settling the estate of a deceased person. 

    35. Property Ownership. (MT198907HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      Describes the three main forms of property ownership in Montana, plus real-life examples of estate settlement for each.

    36.  Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)  (MT201112HR) (2020) [Order Online]
      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. 

    37. NewQuitclaim Deeds in Montana (MT202102HR) (2021) [Order Online]
      What are they? When are they used? What are the risks? What could be some of the unintended tax consequences?

    38. Revocable Living Trusts. (MT199612HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      Defines and explains the benefits, shortfalls, and costs of living trusts. 

    39. NewSelecting an Attorney in Montana to Develop an Estate Plan or Administer an Estate (Probate) (MT202107HR) (2021) [Order Online]
      Describes a process for selecting an attorney to help Montanans develop an estate plan and/or administer an estate (probate).

    40. Selecting an Organizational Structure for Your Business. (MT199708HR) (2019) [Order Online]
      Describes the various types of business structure: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and limited liability corporation. 

    41. Settling an Estate: What Do I Need to Know. (MT201004HR) (2017) [Order Online]
      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. 

    42. Transfer on Death Deeds in Montana  (MT202010HR) (2020) [Order Online]
      A Transfer on Death Deed allows owners of real property in Montana to transfer it at death to one or more designated beneficiaries without probate.
      • Transfer on Death Deed Form (WORD) (PDF)
      • Affidavit of Death Form for Transfer on Death Deed (WORD) (PDF)
      • Revocation Form for a Transfer on Death Deed (WORD) (PDF)

    43. Transferring a Montana Vehicle Title After the Death of an Owner (MT201613HR) (2016)  [Order Online]
      Describes how to transfer a Certificate of Title, also known as the title, for a motor vehicle to the deceased's legal heirs.
    44. Transferring Real Property Owned in a Joint Tenancy or in a Life Estate Without Probate (MT201606HR) (2016) [Order Online]
      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.

    45. Transferring Your Farm or Ranch to the Next Generation. (EB 149) (2018)  [Order Online]
      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. 

    46. What Are Your Rights Over Your Remains? (MT200918HR) (2017) [Order Online]
      The Montana Right of Disposition Act allows a person to provide instructions for disposing of his or her remains or to designate an agent with authority to make such decisions that have priority over the wishes of survivors. 

      • Affidavit for Granting Authority to Another Person to Make Decisions about Disposition of Remains (WORD) (PDF

    47.  Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate? Transferring Non-Titled Property  (MT199701HR) (2017) [Order Online]
      Explains how to deal with some of the issues that may arise with the transfer of non-titled property such as photographs, jewelry, books, and other family heirlooms among family members. 

    48. Wills.  (MT198906HR) (2017) [Order Online]
      Outlines why a written will is necessary. Includes information about costs, restrictions and changes after its completion. 

      • Acknowledgement of Fiduciary Relationship and Obligations Personal Representative, Guardian, or Conservator (WORD) (PDF)
      • Last Will and Testament-Single Individual Form (WORD) (Montana Legal Developer, Senior and Long Term Care, DPHHS)
      • Last Will and Testament-Married Couple Forms (WORD) (Montana Legal Developer, Senior and Long Term Care, DPHHS)

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