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Cost of Probate in Montana

Curious about the cost of probate in Montana? Read our guide that covers everything about Montana probate fees.

The process of distributing property after an estate owner passes away is known as probate, and it's a common court proceeding in the state of Montana. Probate happens in certain (but not all) instances of administering an estate. While the process is similar to other states, there are often questions about the average cost of probate in Montana. Cost will vary and depend on a number of things such as:

  • Complexity and size of an estate

  • Heirs contesting any part of the Will

  • Type of Estate Plans  

  • Use of a probate attorney

  • Etc.

Common Probate Fees in Montana

Despite there being a wide range of probate costs, some fees are common in most probate proceedings throughout the state. Be prepared to pay some or all of the following:

  • Miscellaneous court and filing fees

  • Attorney fees

  • Personal Representative compensation - Montana state law limits Executor fees at five percent (but it’s common for compensation to be treated the same as reasonable compensations states do)

  • Various professional fees

  • Etc. 

Common Questions About Probate in Montana

How Long Does Probate Take in Montana?

A good rule of thumb is that probate can take anywhere from around six months to about a year for an average estate to be settled. More complex and larger estates can take years, and simpler basic estates could even be handled more quickly.

What is UPC in Montana?

Montana is one of 18 states that have adopted the Uniform Probate Code (UPC). The UPC attempted to establish a national standard for all states to follow when going through the probate process. Under the code, there are three types of probate proceedings:

  • Informal

  • Unsupervised

  • Supervised formal 

How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in Montana?

Because probate attorney fees in Montana can vary, it’s difficult to give a concrete dollar figure. Many probate attorneys will bill by the hour, but some charge a flat fee. Montana is one of a handful of states that allows attorneys to charge a set percentage based on the estate value. 

How to Avoid Probate in Montana?

Some people would rather avoid probate, and who can blame them? Probate can be messy, complicated, time-consuming and stressful. You might be able to avoid probate in Montana through any of the following strategies:

  • Establish a Revocable Living Trust

  • Title property in Joint Tenancy

  • Create/title assets to be TOD or POD (Transfer on Death; Payable on Death)

Keep in mind, estates with a value that doesn’t meet or exceed the “small estate” threshold can likely avoid probate (or at least go through a streamlined version of it). 

What is Considered a Small Estate in Montana?

If an estate is valued at less than $15,000, there is no Will and the decedent was not married, in Montana, you can use summary probate procedure. Note that the state does not have an Affidavit procedure for small estates. 

Who Pays Probate Fees in Montana?

Probate lawyer fees in Montana, along with most other costs, are paid for out of the estate.