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

Our goal is to lift the burden off your shoulders, so you can focus on what is most important—coming to terms with your loss and preparing to move on with your life.

Steve Darty

Steve Darty, Headshot

When a loved one has passed, what all must be done? We need to secure property, obtain death certificates, close accounts, notify the credit agencies, and the list goes on, particularly when dependents are involved. We need a forum to address all of the legal matters triggered as well. In Montana, that usually means opening probate.

Probate may seem like a uniform, routine procedure, but every family is different and therefore different variables must be addressed for every probate. Often the most important probate questions those you may not know to ask.

Probate is the State of Montana’s process for 1) validating a will or determining the legal heirs if there is not a will or trust, 2) freezing the assets then ensuring the decedent’s debts are settled before the heirs inherit, and 3) paying applicable taxes and “closing the books” on the decedent’s affairs.

Montana Probate is administered in the County District Court and is therefore public information. In Montana, probate is typically an “informal” process, meaning there are no appearances in front of a judge, but rather all documents are filed with the Clerk of District Court, assuming the will is uncontested. A personal representative (PR) of the decedent is appointed and has a fiduciary responsibility to the estate to dutifully administer the probate proceedings. This means the PR can be held civilly liable for mismanaging the distributions, even if the mistakes are accidental. This can be a daunting, stressful process and is often performed by someone still dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Court House

As you can imagine, accomplishing all of this takes an enormous amount of time and can be extremely frustrating. When you factor in the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one, the process can seem overwhelming. Most PRs are serving in this capacity for the first time and halfway through the process decide an experienced Montana probate attorney is needed. The assets in the estate pay the attorney fees and hiring an experienced probate lawyer often saves money in the end.

Montana Elder Law is an experienced Missoula probate law firm helping clients throughout the state of Montana. We help families navigate the process and settle the estate as quickly and economically as possible. Our goal is to lift the burden off your shoulders, so you can focus on what is most important—coming to terms with your loss and preparing to move on with your life. If a loved one of yours has recently passed and you would like a no-cost, confidential consultation to discuss the next steps, please request a consultation today.

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.
FAQs: Probate Services in Montana
  • Is probate necessary in Montana?

Yes, Montana requires probate to officially validate a will and distribute assets. It’s part of the process.

  • How long does it take to probate a will in Montana?

Probate in Montana varies; it can be quick, taking just a few months, or stretch over a year. Complex estates or contested wills can slow things down.

  • What is informal probate in Montana?

Informal probate here is pretty straightforward. You file documents with the court clerk, skipping the drama of court appearances if everyone agrees on the will.

  • How do I avoid probate in MT?

Looking to skip probate in Montana? Consider trusts, joint ownership, or designating beneficiaries directly. These can be shortcuts around the probate path.

  • Is there a probate tax in Montana?

No specific probate tax. But keep an eye out for federal taxes and other fees that might apply.

  • How long does probate take in Montana without a will?

No will? Probate in Montana might take a bit longer, several months to over a year, as the court steps in to figure out where assets should go.

  • Do you have to file a will in Montana?

Absolutely. Filing a will kicks off the probate process in Montana. It’s step one on this important journey.