If you haven’t made a will and don’t know someone who has, then you’ve likely seen wills made or read out in movies or on TV. Wills are legal documents that distribute a person’s property after his or her death, and are the most common method of estate planning. Each state has its own wills laws that govern how to make, change, and execute wills. Here’s a brief summary of Montana wills laws.
Montana’s Wills Laws
Montana law permits anyone over the age of eighteen and of sound mind to make a will. The “typical” will must comply with certain legal formalities. The maker (“testator”) must dispose of his or her property in writing, sign it or have someone sign it at his or her direction, and have two witnesses sign as well. It’s also possible to make a handwritten (“holographic”) will. Handwritten wills must be signed and the material (important) provisions must be in the testator’s own handwriting. Montana also has a method for establishing a document as a will when these legal formalities aren’t met, but that’s certainly not recommended.
It’s not unusual for people to make changes to a will. Montana permits people to make another, subsequent will that revokes a previous will. A testator can also physically revoke a will by burning it, tearing it up, canceling it, obliterating it, or destroying it so long as they intend to revoke it. Revoking a later will does not, ordinarily, revive a previously revoked will. There can be exceptions, however.
There are also special provisions for special circumstances. A divorce generally (but not always) revokes the portions of a will leaving property to a former spouse or appointing them executor of the estate. Montana law also has a provision, commonly called a “slayer statute,” that strips anyone who “feloniously and intentionally kills” a testator from inheriting his or her property. There are other provisions that can apply as well.
|Code Section||72-2-521, et seq.|
|Age of Testator||18 years or older and of sound mind.|
|Number of Witnesses||Two witnesses who sign within a reasonable time of having witnessed the testator's signature or acknowledgement of the will.|
|Noncupative (Oral Wills)||Not recognized.|
|Holographic Wills||Valid when signed by testator and material provisions are in testator's handwriting.|
Montana Wills Law: Related Resources
While anyone can make a will, wills laws can be complex and disputes often drag on for years. It’s recommended that anyone looking to make a will consult an estate-planning attorney for guidance and assistance. You can read Montana’s wills statutes online.
Contact a qualified attorney.