Montana Law Governing Last Wills & Testaments

By Andrine Redsteer

Montana's Uniform Probate Code governs wills throughout the state. Like other states, Montana mandates specific formalities that must be adhered to during the making of a will. Formalities are important procedures that give wills legal effect; without them, a will maker — called a "testator" — could make a will that is contrary to his actual intent.

Montana's Uniform Probate Code governs wills throughout the state. Like other states, Montana mandates specific formalities that must be adhered to during the making of a will. Formalities are important procedures that give wills legal effect; without them, a will maker — called a "testator" — could make a will that is contrary to his actual intent.

Testamentary Capacity

According to Montana law, testators must have testamentary capacity; that is, they must be of sound mind. Testamentary capacity means the acuity to comprehend the amount and nature of the property involved and the significance of executing a will. A testator must also have the ability to recognize his relationship to the individuals receiving bequests of his property. Because minors may not adequately grasp these concepts, Montana requires all testators to be at least 18 years old.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Writing and Witnesses

In Montana, a will must be in writing. This means a testator can either type or hand-write her will. Handwritten wills are called "holographic" wills and Montana recognizes them, regardless of whether they're witnessed. However, for a holographic will to be valid, it's material portions must be in the testator's own handwriting and signed by the testator. Montana requires two competent witnesses to a will. These witnesses must sign the will within a reasonable time after watching the testator acknowledge or sign the will.

Self-Proving Wills

In Montana, a testator can make his will self-proving. For a will to be self-proving, a notarized affidavit must be executed simultaneously with the will and contain the signatures of both witnesses and the testator. Generally, if a will is not self-proving, one of the witnesses must testify in probate court to verify its authenticity. Thus, making a self-proving will streamlines the process and prevents having to track down witnesses who may have moved to another state.

Revocation

Montana law allows testators to revoke their wills in a number of ways. A testator may revoke his will by physically destroying it; that is, he may tear it up, burn it or cancel it, provided his intent is to revoke it. A testator may also revoke a will by executing a subsequent will that expressly revokes his prior will. Furthermore, a subsequent will that doesn't expressly revoke a prior will, but has provisions that are substantially inconsistent with a prior will, may have the effect of revoking it.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Can You Revoke a Will by Handwriting a Note in Wisconsin?

References

Related articles

Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Legal Will?

In most states, a legal or valid will must contain certain basic information, such as the testator's or will-maker's name, the date the will was made, the testator's signature and the signatures of two witnesses in some cases. An attorney's help is not required to make a valid will. Nevertheless, it is wise to consider consulting an attorney when you make your will, especially if you have minor children, considerable investments or other assets, or family strife that may affect how your property is distributed after you die.

How Is a Beneficiary Removed from a Will?

When a person is named in a will, he is called a beneficiary. Heirs, on the other hand, are individuals who stand to inherit from a relative who failed to make a will; thus, leaving inheritance division to the laws of intestate succession. Testators, or will makers, may remove beneficiaries from wills by executing specific documents that effectively disinherit the beneficiary -- usually by express terms.

Do Wills Have to Be Handwritten?

Speak with attorneys across the country, and you will likely hear the same advice: most people over the age of 18 should have a will. Without one, state statutes of descent and distribution step in to govern the allocation of assets to survivors. Handwritten wills, also known as holographic wills, are legal and binding in many states. However, each state defines what is acceptable within its boundaries.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

The Requirements for Last Wills Accepted in All 50 States

Laws regarding last wills vary slightly among all states, but in general, a will must meet certain requirements to be ...

Problems Probating a Will

When a person dies having made a will, it's referred to as dying "testate." Before a testate decedent's ...

A Self-Made Last Will & Testament in Oregon

If you're an Oregon resident, you can execute a valid self-made last will and testament, provided you adhere to the ...

Verifying Authenticity of a Last Will & Testament

The maker of a will, commonly known as the "testator," must draft the will in accordance with the state's ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED