Wills and probate go hand in hand. A will establishes your final wishes. Probate is the legal process through which your final wishes and property are distributed. If you are 18 years or older, you do need a will. You may think, “I don’t need a will; all I own is debt.” Even if your debts outweigh your assets, you still need a will so that your wishes are carried out at your death, including who’s going to take care of your children, the distribution of that beloved baseball card collection, and cremation or burial wishes.
This will set out your burial wishes, the disposition of your personal property, the family home, other real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, stock portfolios – even beloved family pets.
In your Last Will & Testament, you will specifically name the person (called a “Personal Representative”) whom you designate to carry out your final wishes. In most cases, it will be your husband or wife. No spouse? You can nominate your son or daughter (if they are over the age of 18), a trusted family friend, or even a financial institution. If you’re in doubt, we can make several suggestions for your consideration. We’ll also offer you our advice for choosing a local heir versus a relative who lives out of State.
If you have children under the age of 18, your Will should name a guardian and an alternative guardian for your minor children. Without a Will, the local District Court and/or your parents and siblings will make that decision for you. Wouldn’t you like to make that decision?
In addition to naming a guardian for your minor children, your Will should also name a Trustee, the institution (a bank) or person(s) who will handle your assets, in trust, for the benefit of your children. The Trustee is responsible for investing and reinvesting your assets and is required to make yearly reports to the local District Court showing all income earned by the Trust, together with all disbursements made to or for the benefit of your children. A “Trust” created in your Will can set forth amounts of money to be paid over to your child or children until they have reached a certain age, 25 years, for instance, and also stipulates what the money can or cannot be used for, i.e., tuition, health insurance, or perhaps a down payment on a house.
No. Recent laws passed by the Montana Legislature have abolished inheritance taxes on property received through a decedent’s estate. However, depending upon the value of your estate, it may be necessary to pay Federal estate tax. In such event, we would recommend that you first consult with a tax attorney.
No. At death, any interest in jointly owned property passes to the surviving joint tenant.
In most cases, we can prepare a simple Will for $200.00 or less. For identical “ma/pa” wills, we’ll prepare both wills for $300.00 or less.
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Contact our office today, and let us assist you in this important decision-making process.