Probate is the process overseen by the court of gathering a deceased person’s assets and distributing them to heirs, devisees and creditors. As a personal representative in Montana (a/k/a an “executor” in other jurisdictions), the probate process and your duties are governed by the Uniform Probate Code (UPC), which is a set of probate laws intended to make the probate process simpler and uniform between jurisdictions. The overall process is similar, but the level of the court’s involvement depends on the existence of disputes, the complexity of those disputes, and the size of the estate.
Starting a Probate
The probate process begins by calling us. We will gather preliminary information and determine what is needed, if anything. If a probate is necessary, we prepare and file the proper application with the proper court asking the court to officially make you personal representative of the estate. We also represent heirs, devisees, and others interested in protecting their interests in an estate. We will need a death certificate and the original will, if there is one, to file with the court. The court will issue an order appointing the personal representative.
At this initial stage, we will assist with publishing a notice of the probate in a local newspaper and mailing notices to known creditors according to state law. We mail a notice of the probate to beneficiaries and heirs as required by law. We will file proof that you properly published and mailed the notices.
Closing the Estate
Once the debts and liabilities of the estate are paid or sufficient assets of the estate are set aside to pay claims, the estate property can be distributed. We may seek approval of the court or heirs and devisees. Alternatively, we may prepare a single document stating you fulfilled your duties as personal representative. You will ultimately be relieved of your duties as personal representative.