Billings Probate Attorneys
Compassionate Legal Support in Montana
Losing a loved one is difficult enough without having to deal with probate and other legal matters that may arise in the wake of someone’s passing. Proactive action can alleviate a great deal of the burden associated with probate, but even the most comprehensive estate plan will not eliminate the process entirely.
Probate can be stressful and overwhelming, but our goal is to make the process as efficient and painless as possible. Our Billings probate lawyers are prepared to guide you through each stage of settling your loved one’s estate. At Dietrich & Associates, P.C., we have over 36 years of legal experience and know how to handle all types of probate complications and conflicts.
How Probate Works in Montana
Every estate will need to go through some level of probate, the court-supervised process for settling someone’s final affairs. Unfortunately, probate is known for being expensive, time-consuming, and often rife with conflict.
Most people name an executor to oversee their estate in their last will and testament. If there is no enforceable will, the court will appoint an executor. This personal representative will need to fulfill numerous legal responsibilities involved in the inventorying of property, payment of debts, and distribution of assets. A legal representative can provide sophisticated guidance and represent the deceased’s estate in the event of a will contest or any other type of dispute.
Our Billings probate attorneys can assist you with each step of the process, including:
- Filing the last will and testament
- Preparing and filing documents required by the court in a timely manner
- Keeping track of the estate’s checking account
- Locating, securing, and inventorying probate and non-probate assets
- Obtaining date-of-death values and appraisals of property
- Collecting life insurance proceeds
- Managing retirement plans, including IRAs and 401(k)s
- Offering advice concerning the payment of the decedent’s final bills and outstanding debts
- Determining if any estate and/or inheritance taxes will be due
- Addressing income tax issues
- Settling disputes among personal representatives, beneficiaries, and other interested parties
- Assisting with the sale of estate property
- Requesting court permission for various actions
- Retitling real estate if it is not sold
- Distributing what remains of the decedent’s assets after paying all debts and taxes
Avoiding Probate in Montana
Because probate can be so costly and onerous, it is almost always in your best interest to avoid it wherever possible. Keep in mind that probate assets will only be distributed after all debts and taxes have been paid. Your personal representative may be forced to liquidate assets to settle these obligations, which can jeopardize planned inheritances.
Creating an estate plan can minimize the consequences of probate. Assets placed in trusts are generally exempt from the process and can be distributed more efficiently to beneficiaries. Certain types of irrevocable trusts can also be used to achieve asset protection and reduce the impact of federal estate taxes. Our team at Dietrich & Associates, P.C. can walk you through your planning options and implement the tools that are right for your estate.
In Montana, an expedited probate procedure may also be available to small estates. This option may be pursued if the estate’s total value does not exceed the homestead allowance, family allowance, exempt property, funeral expenses, medical expenses, family allowance, and costs of estate administration.
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“Mr. Dietrich is an expert in the law and understands people.” - WS
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“Overall the finest lawyer I have ever felt with.” - Evelyn M.
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“I have such confidence in him that I have referred family, friends, and business associates.” - Former Client
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