Areas of Practice
Personalized Estate Planning
An estate plan custom created for you takes into consideration your family dynamics, how your individual beneficiaries will be treated and expresses your wishes for your family after you have passed. Generic estate plans also do not reflect the complicated families of today. It’s never too early to begin creating a plan to for your estate. The best place to start is to consult an estate law attorney with local experience and knowledge. Columbia Falls Estate Planning can develop a customized strategy for you and your family. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
A "peace of mind" estate plan starts with your will. The will passes your property to family, friends, and favored organizations, could direct distribution of a recent inheritance, may fix errors in living trust funding, allows you to select a guardian, enables you to disinherit a child or other relative, permits you to choose your executor and may help with simplified probate.
Some types of property are best transferred by will. Many personal assets are difficult to transfer through a living trust or are not appropriate for a "pay on death" transfer. Because vehicles and other personal assets are likely to be bought and sold, it is much easier to keep vehicles, furniture, collections, and other items in the probate estate and transfer them by will.
You might be planning to receive an inheritance from a parent or other relative, but the inheritance could be delayed by the probate process, potential estate issues, or other reasons. Therefore, when you finally receive title to the property, there may not be a convenient time or opportunity to transfer the assets into a revocable living trust. As a result, the inheritance will form part of your estate.
There have also been cases where a person passes away in a tragic accident. The estate may receive an insurance settlement or a claim under a wrongful death action. These assets would become part of the probate estate and are transferred under the residuary clause of your will.
The living trust facilitates property management during life, protection of the grantor, transfer of assets and income to family members, and management of the real estate. A living trust can have multiple benefits if you have a more substantial estate. The living trust may include various provisions for handling the management of a real estate or personal business interests. If you have real estate in multiple states, transferring that property to a living trust is advantageous. This property can then be managed for the benefit of both you and your heirs.
If you have a property in multiple states and pass away with a will, it is necessary to conduct a probate administration in each state where you own property. This entails hiring professionals to manage the probate in each state and considerably increases the total cost. There is no need for multiple and expensive probate proceedings with a living trust holding real estate in different states.
One of the significant benefits of a living trust is that the trust assets bypass the probate process. This may mean savings in probate costs- up to many thousands of dollars in most states.
Not only are there savings in probate costs, but your estate may also avoid the delays that frequently occur in the probate process. If there are claims against the estate, the probate process can take from two to ten years.
While some large estates have been tied up in probate for many years, other similarly sized estates with a living trust can continue to manage the property and pay income and principal to beneficiaries.
With or without a will, Montana laws provide a legal process to determine their real and personal property and determine the market value of the assets and their distribution to appropriate parties.
One procedure, termed probate, takes place in the county's district court, where the deceased person had a residence. Probate is not required for any property the decedent held in trust or any property held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship with another person. If the deceased had real property located in another state, an "ancillary administration" proceeding in that state might be necessary.
Probate is the administrative process of settling an estate whether the decedent died with or without a will. If appointed, the personal representative named in your will is responsible for settling your estate according to its terms and provisions and Montana law. The personal representative may be a family member, a friend, an attorney, a corporate entity such as a bank or trust company, or a combination of these. If you die without a will, the Montana UPC lists the order for eligible persons to apply for an appointment as a personal representative.
Probate proceedings have the following primary functions: to determine the validity of and interpret wills; to discover, collect, manage and protect estate assets until final distribution; to settle claims of creditors; to settle federal and state obligations, if due; to distribute the decedent's property to their heirs according to Montana's law of intestacy (dying without a will) and devisees (those named in the will); and to provide a method of securing the legal transfer of a real estate or personal property ownership (cars, stocks, bonds, and so on).
Although probate may seem lengthy and detailed, it is provided by Montana law to assure that the property of the deceased is accounted for and that all debts and taxes are paid. Someone must carry out the business of the estate and see that the property is distributed to the designated parties.
Business Planning/LLC Formation
A limited liability company is a business ownership structure that separates your personal affairs from your business affairs. When set up properly, an LLC shields your personal assets from being taken to pay business debts or claims against the business, like a corporation. An LLC has fewer formalities than a corporation
An LLC has easy pass-through taxation (like a sole proprietorship or partnership), where profits and losses are passed through to the owners and taxed on their personal income tax returns.