Estate Planning Attorney | Billings, Missoula, Great Falls, Butte, Helena, Kalispell & Bozeman, MT

So What Really is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is more than just protecting and preserving your assets, it’s more than just wills and trusts. It’s taking your values and parenting wisdom, and making them timeless. It’s protecting your heirs both financially and emotionally. There’s a myth that estate planning and trusts are only for the rich, that is so untrue. Sometimes simple and affordable acts can have thoughtful effects, rippling for multiple generations to follow. And regardless of our wealth, we all want to prevent fracturing our family’s relationships due to disagreements and misunderstandings caused by an ambiguous wills, trusts, or lack thereof.

Often people think only of a will when they think of estate planning and forget there may come a time in their lives when they are no longer able to care for themselves or their spouse. Preparing for the future, also includes looking at potential disabilities and how those costs will be paid, as well as, who you trust to administer your estate and who can legally make decisionsfor you in the event that you become unable to make those decisions yourself.

No one likes to think of their own death or incapacity and as a result we procrastinate. As a Montana estate lawyer I cannot urge you enough to plan ahead. Having a well-thought out estate plan will prevent your family from having to deal with the cost, trouble, and heartache of the court system and allow you to maintain your personal dignity and independence for as long as possible. There are ways to spare your family undue burdens, with the use of trusts and incapacity documents such as powers of attorney and living wills.

We can also arrange for the administration of your estate to happen in a private proceeding, not a public proceeding such as probate. This way, what you choose to leave behind and to whom, remains private. Finally, we can make sure that all of this happens in an affordable, trouble-free way so that your wishes and values are honored, and so that your gifts and your life is remembered and respected…that is our firm’s definition of estate planning.

Call Us: (406) 549-0306


  • User
    Steve Darty is what the Law profession was originally meant to be. He is busy, as are all great professionals; but when with him, he makes you feel as if you are his only client. Jesse P.
  • User
    Mr. Darty was knowledgeable helpful patient and understanding. He took the time necessary to help me devise a plan that seems thorough and thoughtful. He was available and responsive. I recommend him without any reservations! Michael S.
  • User
    We were very impressed with the time Steve spent with us. He was very thorough and informative. He gave us different options that were particular to our personal situation. We never felt rushed. Janet S.
  • User
    I was very pleased with the services provided by the Montana Elder Law, for creating an estate plan. Mr. Darty is very well versed in estate law and he was excellent in explaining things. I have recommended Mr. Darty to many people and will continue to use his services in the future, as needed. Suzanne N.
  • User
    Working with Steve has been both educational and enjoyable. His intelligence, expertise, and humor are refreshing. His professional assessments are 'spot-on.' I look forward to working with him on future financial projects. Jane M.
  • User
    Steve put together a full estate plan for my wife and I that makes plans for our children, their care, possessions and last requests. We would recommend that everyone have a will at least, and a full estate plan if you can. Justin H.
  • User
    Very professional and knowledgeable. Explained things well and was a great help. Highly recommend Montana Elder Law. Thomas S.
  • User
    Steve gets things done! He's very organized and cares deeply about each of his clients. Highly recommend! Makenzi H.
  • User
    Steve was helpful in guiding me through sticky situation with another lawyer in Kalispell who was representing (actually misrepresenting) a family member. I've never met him but worked with him long distance. Laurie P.
  • User
    Great personalized one on one service. Caring and professional. Edward B.
  • User
    Absolutely recommend this firm. Steve Darty works by himself and it is a very comfortable arrangement. Jane H.
  • User
    Steve has been wonderful to work with. Very responsive and accommodating! Marissa B.
  • User
    Steve is professional and knowledgeable. Highly recommended. Drew R.
  • User
    Helpful and knowledgeable, recommended! Lisa S.
Montana Estate Planning FAQs
  • What is estate planning and why is it crucial beyond just having a will?

Estate planning is the comprehensive approach to managing your assets, values, and wishes for the future. It goes beyond drafting a will to include trusts, powers of attorney, and living wills.

  • Are estate plans only for the wealthy, or do I need one?

Estate planning is essential for everyone, regardless of wealth. In Montana, creating an estate plan can protect your assets, prevent family disputes, and ensure your wishes are carried out, providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

  • What are the requirements for a valid will in Montana?

In Montana, a valid will must be in writing, signed by the testator (or by someone in the testator’s presence and at their direction), and witnessed by at least two individuals who will not inherit anything under the will.

  • What triggers probate in Montana, and can it be avoided?

Probate in Montana is triggered by the need to legally transfer assets from the deceased to their heirs. Strategies to avoid probate include setting up trusts, joint ownerships, and designating beneficiaries on accounts and insurance policies.

  • Do you have to pay taxes on inheritance in Montana, and are there exceptions?

Montana does not impose a state inheritance tax. However, estate planning should consider federal taxes and the potential for other taxes based on how assets are distributed and owned.

  • Do all wills go through probate in Montana?

Not all wills undergo probate in Montana. Small estates may qualify for simplified procedures, and assets held in trusts or with designated beneficiaries can often bypass the probate process entirely.

  • How long does probate take in Montana without a will, and what should I prepare for?

Probate in Montana can take several months to over a year, especially without a will, as the court determines asset distribution according to state intestacy laws. Preparing a comprehensive estate plan can significantly reduce this timeframe.