The process for making wills has similarities in every state, but there are differences. These differences are in the specific state statutes that every state has—each U.S. state has its own laws regarding wills. If your will does not satisfy the requirements of the particular state, the court will not recognize it as valid. To know how to make a will in Montana valid, you must familiarize yourself with the legal requirements set forth by the state. You will find all the requirements as well as other information regarding wills below. If you are making an online will, be sure to use a template customized for Montana.
Can I Make a Will Online in Montana?
Yes, you can make a will online in Montana. You can use an online will making service to do so. Our lawyer reviewed multiple online wills to find the best online will making service. USLegalWills delivered the highest quality online will for Montana.
The following legal requirements are how to make a will in Montana valid:
- The Testator (the person writing the will) must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind.
- The will must be in writing. If you make an online will, you must print it out. The state of Montana does not allow digital-only wills.
- The Testator must sign the will.
- The will must be signed by two witnesses, each having signed within a reasonable time after either witnessing the Testator sign or hearing the Testator acknowledge their signature.
- The will must show testamentary intent (which means, the Testator must show intent that this document is their last will and testament; generally, the language used in wills satisfies this requirement).
Anyone generally competent to be a witness can act as a witness to a will. In Montana, if one or both of your witnesses are “interested parties” (that is, beneficiaries in your will), it does not invalidate your will. However, to avoid legal complications, it is always a better idea to choose two witnesses that are both “disinterested parties.”
Does Montana Require a Notarized Will?
No, a notarized will is not required in Montana. Like many other states, Montana does allow wills to be “self-proved.” A will that is “self-proved” helps speed up the process for the probate court to validate the will.
To make a will “self-proved” in Montana, you and your witnesses make statements in front of a notary public. In effect, these statements demonstrate that all parties knowingly signed and acknowledged the will. Once you obtain these notarized statements, you will then attach them to your will so that it is “self-proved.”
By “self-proving” your will, it often eliminates the need for the court to call upon the witnesses of your will to testify to its authenticity. The court can automatically accept the will as valid.
Can I Name an Executor in Montana?
Yes, you can name an executor in your will. An executor is the person appointed to settle the estate, ensuring that the will is followed. If you do not name an executor in your will, the probate court will appoint someone. It is better if you do name someone as the executor, so that you can be confident that the settling of your estate is in good hands. You want to choose someone you trust, preferably someone who is good with paperwork and who is organized. An executor is also entitled to a reasonable compensation for their time and services.
Here are the requirements for an executor in Montana:
- The executor must be at least 18 years old,
- Of sound mind — that is, not judged incapactated by a court.
There are no other requirements for someone to qualify to serve as an executor. Many states prohibit someone with a felony conviction to act as an executor, but Montana has no statutes prohibiting that. However, the court can reject a potential executor if someone challenges their competency and there is evidence that they are unsuitable to serve.
Montana also does not have any special requirements to name an out-of-state executor.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Montana?
No, an attorney is not required to make a will. As long as you know how to make a will in Montana valid, you can choose to make a will without a lawyer. It is always best—especially if you have a large or complex estate—to consult an estate planning attorney if you have any questions or concerns. In most cases, however, online will making is a good option. If your estate is relatively simple and your will is not complicated, it is usually a very straightforward process. You want to make sure you use an online will making service with a template designed for Montana.
What Types of Wills Are Valid in Montana?
Any will, made online or otherwise, that meets the state-specific requirements is valid in Montana.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in Montana?
Holographic wills are recognized in Montana. Holographic wills are handwritten wills that are signed by the Testator (the person making the will) with no other attesting witnesses. For a holographic will to be valid in Montana, the material portions of the document as well as the signature must be in the Testator’s handwriting.
However, holographic wills often face delays in probate court as they do not always include important provisions, and they must be proved authentic. The court may require witnesses—sometimes even handwriting analysis experts—to authenticate your handwriting. If the language is unclear or if the handwriting becomes illegible, the court may decide to reject a holographic will.
To avoid legal complications and delays, it is better to use an online will making service with a will template that is customized for Montana.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in Montana?
A nuncupative will is an oral will, which sometimes people like to leave on video. Nuncupative wills are not recognized in Montana.
In any state, a nuncupative will is typically considered an emergency or last resort type of will. If someone is facing imminent death, leaving a nuncupative will is better than no instructions at all. However, because nuncupative wills are not recognized in Montana, the court will not enforce any terms left in a nuncupative will. If all your heirs and beneficiaries agree to the terms left in a nuncupative will, then a nuncupative will might be followed.
It is always better to have a valid will in place. A valid will can help mitigate a long probate process, allowing your estate to be settled in an efficient way.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in Montana?
A living will, also sometimes known as an advance direction, is a separate legal document to a last will and testament. Both serve two distinct purposes. A living will contains instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care whereas a last will and testament contains matters related to a person’s estate. If you leave any medical directives or end-of-life care instructions in a last will and testament, those instructions are not considered legally binding. It is also possible that if you place those types of directions in a last will and testament, they will not be known until after death. A will is usually not consulted until after the funeral, when the process for settling the estate begins.
You can make both a last will and testament and a living will online. For more information about living wills in Montana, as well as the forms and the state registry, you can go here.
For a living will to be effective and valid in Montana, the following is required:
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- Directives must be signed by two witnesses.
- To name someone as your Health Care Power of Attorney, this must be signed in front of a notary.
It is your responsibility to inform your family and your medical providers that you have a living will. You should make copies of it to give to trusted people, doctors, and anyone else that may be involved in your medical care.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in Montana?
If someone dies without a will, there are laws that determine what happens to their estate. These are known as intestacy laws, and they vary state-by-state. The state of Montana will appoint a guardian to any minor children and name an executor to your estate, after which your estate will be divided between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws of Montana. This can become a long, dragged-out process; property can be held in probate for months or even years at a time.
If you have any minor children, it is important to make a will so that you can appoint guardians for them and to plan for their future. If you own property and you want to distribute it in a certain way, you have to make a will otherwise your estate will follow the intestacy laws. If you want to include any friends or more distant family members, it must be done in will.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Montana?
As long as you know how to make a will in Montana valid, you can include many different provisions in the will. You can include the same provisions in a will you make online.
The following can be included in a will in Montana:
- The executor of your estate, along with alternate executors or co-executors.
- How you wish to distribute property or gifts to family, friends, charities, or organizations.
- Guardians for any minor children.
- A trusted person to oversee any property left to minor children.
- Someone to care for any remaining pets.
- How you want to distribute family heirlooms.
- How you want to distribute personal or sentimental items.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in Montana?
You should not include funeral directions in your will; you should also not include medical directives or end-of-life care instructions in your will either. Because a will is generally not consulted until after the funeral, this makes it not the place to leave such instructions. Your family will likely not know about any wishes you had for your funeral, and medical directive and end-of-life care desires are not effective or valid if put into a last will and testament.
For funeral directions, you can make your wishes known by talking to family members. You can also write up an informal document that describes your wishes for your funeral, which you can give to the person you named as executor of your estate or other trusted individuals.
For medical directives and end-of-life care, you can create a living will.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in Montana?
A will is a legally binding document, whether it is made online or not. However, as long as you are of sound mind, you can change or revoke your will at any time.
In Montana, you can change or revoke a will by:
- Destroying it physically with the intent to revoke it.
- Ordering someone else to physically destroy it in front of you with the intent of revoking it.
- Writing a new will that revokes the old will or that includes contradictory terms to the old will.
It is a good idea to revisit your will periodically, especially when changes in family or financial situations occur. Marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, the death of a beneficiary, when you acquire new property, if you relocate to a new state—all of these circumstances are times in which you should revisit your will. If you are making a lot of changes to the will, it is best to revoke it and write a new will. For only small changes, you can add a codicil to your will—a supplement amending the changes you want to include—that you must finalize in the same formalities as a will.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in Montana?
Knowing how to make a will in Montana finalized is one of the most important parts of making your will. Without finalizing the will in the way the state requires, the will is not considered valid.
To finalize a will in Montana, take these steps:
- If you made the will online, print it out. It must be in writing (on paper).
- Sign the will, and
- Have two witnesses sign it, each within a reasonable time after watching you sign or hearing you acknowledge your signature.
To make a will “self-proving” in Montana, you and your witnesses will need to make sworn statements attesting to the authenticity of the will in front of a notary public. You then attach these notarized affidavits to your will.
Be sure to consider these special considerations in Montana:
- Montana law will revoke any language in a will that leaves property to your spouse or names your spouse as the executor of your estate in the event of divorce.
- Adult children can be disinherited in Montana. You do not need to leave a small sum to show that they were not forgotten. Attorneys typically name the children in the will, to show that the Testator knew the “natural objects of his bounty” and that they were not forgotten. If you leave a small sum, this opens the possibility that the child can contest that their parent was of unsound mind. If you intend on disinheriting a child, it is best to consult an attorney.
USLegalWills is our recommendation for an online will in Montana. Their pricing is fair and the process of making an online will is easy. You can also create a Living Will. USLegalWills offers a free service to document funeral wishes and save final messages for loved ones.