Probate & Trust Administration
Montana Probate Administration
The probate process begins when an application is filed with the Court to appoint a Personal Representative. If there are no objections, the Personal Representative will inventory and manage the assets, pay debts of the estate, file tax returns as necessary, and distribute any remaining assets to beneficiaries. If the deceased individual had a Will, the original Will must accompany the application and be filed with the Court. If no Will exists, or if the Will only covers part of the estate, Montana law determines the beneficiaries and distribution.
The District Court oversees the probate process. Typically, the process includes the following steps:
- Appointment of the Personal Representative. If there is no Will or the Will does not specify a Personal Representative, Montana law dictates who has priority to serve. The Personal Representative is entitled to collect fees from the probate estate for work performed.
- Identify and notify heirs, beneficiaries, creditors and the public about the deceased individual and the probate estate.
- Appraise property. The Personal Representative must determine the value of the estate and inventory all property. The inventory must be provided to interested persons of the estate.
- Pay taxes and creditors, provide an accounting, and distribute assets to beneficiaries. Creditors, including the IRS, receive payment according to a priority order and any remaining funds are distributed among the heirs according to the Will or the requirements of law. If there are insufficient assets to pay creditors, beneficiaries may not receive some or any of their inheritance.
The probate administration process is not always simple. Complications can arise with assets, creditors and beneficiaries. For more than 30 years, our Firm has helped Personal Representatives fulfill their duties at every step of the process.
Montana Trust Administration
In the Revocable Living Trust context, a Trust Administration refers to the Trustees’ management of Trust property according to the terms of the Trust and for the benefit of the beneficiaries after the Settlor’s death. If all of the deceased individual’s assets are beneficiary designated or owned in the Trust at death, then no formal action is required by the District Court. Many steps are required to safeguard the Trustee and properly administer the Trust estate.
Trust Administration starts with a mandatory notice to all qualified beneficiaries, unless modified by the Trust document. After receiving a properly drafted notice, the beneficiary has 120 days to challenge the validity of the Trust.
Next, the Successor Trustee of the Trust must appraise and inventory the assets. The Successor Trustee must determine the value of all the property held by the Trust.
Upon completion of the inventory, the Successor Trustee must pay creditors, file tax returns as required, provide an accounting to interested parties, and distribute Trust assets to the beneficiaries under the terms of the Trust document.
The Trust Administration process is not always simple. Often complications arise with assets, creditors or beneficiaries. For more than 30 years, our Firm has helped Trustees fulfill their duties through every step in the process.
Bryan Law Firm, PC
11 East Main St., Suites B & D
Bozeman, MT 59715
Telephone: (406) 586-8565