Montana State University Extension has published free guidance on settling a person’s estate after death, a process known as probate.

Extension has made the MontGuides “What is a Personal Representative” and “Probate” available online at http://www.montana.edu/estateplanning/eppublications.html. Paper copies are also available from county Extension or reservation offices.

Probate takes place in district court in the Montana county where the deceased lived. During probate, a person’s will is verified before settling creditors’ claims, and heirs receive property according to Montana law.

A personal representative, what used to be an executor, who is named in a will and appointed by a district judge, is responsible for settling an estate. The PR may be a family member, friend, attorney, corporate entity — a bank or trust company — or a combination of those. The personal representative transfers real estate and personal property to their new owners.

MSU Extension family economics specialist Marsha Goetting added that an appointed PR is not necessary if all property held by the dead person is “non-probate,” such as property held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, property held in trust, life insurance payable to a named beneficiary, transfer-on-death deeds on real property, among other examples.

–MSU News Service