The Montana Estate Lawyer

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Our Charity Partner of the Year

This year, Scott, Tokerud & McCarty will launch our Charity Partner of the Year program. The 2021 Charity Partner of the Year was chosen because they act with integrity and humility, and they show extraordinary dedication to transforming the community. 

The 2021 Charity Partner of the Year is the Special Olympics Montana.

Special Olympics was launched in the 1960s, born from Eunice Kennedy Shriver's outrage for the lack of inclusion for persons with intellectual disabilities...


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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Probate Administration - Frequently Asked Questions

(This blog has been updated from the post dated August 8, 2012)  

1. What is probate? 
Probate is the process of proving the Will, appointing the Personal Representative, paying the decedent’s debts, filing applicable tax returns, collecting any monies owed the decedent, and identifying, valuing, and transferring the decedent’s assets. 

2. When is probate necessary? 
Probate is required if the decedent owned any real property interests held in the decedent’s sole name, or, if the decedent owned more than $50,000 of personal property, such as vehicles, artwork, bank accounts, investment accounts, etc., with no beneficiary, POD, or TOD designations.

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Giving to Charity

We are all blessed to live in a giving community. Over the years, I have had the privilege of serving on several non-profit boards in Great Falls, including Community Help Line, Children’s Museum of Montana, Montana School for the Deaf and Blind Foundation, Great Falls Public Schools Foundation, and Benefis Health System Foundation.  In addition, my wife works for Special Olympics Montana.  I have seen first-hand the difference that charitable giving makes to such organizations and the people they serve. Giving to charity in whatever manner or means you can has the potential to touch the lives of many others for years to come.
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Thursday, December 10, 2020

Estate Tax Exemption And Annual Gift Tax Exclusion For 2021

The Internal Revenue Service announced at the end of October the official estate and gift tax limits for 2021: The estate and gift tax exemption is $11.7 million per individual, up from $11.58 million in 2020. That means an individual could leave $11.7 million to heirs and pay no federal estate or gift tax, while a married couple could shield $23.

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Montana Transfer on Death Deed

Montana has replaced the Beneficiary Deed with the Transfer on Death (“TOD”) Deed. Both are intended to allow owners to transfer, effective upon death, their real property located in Montana to one of or more beneficiaries or grantees. The new TOD Deed is now the proper deed form to accomplish this result because the 2019 Montana legislature adopted the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act which allows for and provides guidance for the use of a TOD Deed.

Just like with the former Beneficiary Deed, the TOD Deed allows an owner of real property located within the state to avoid the probate process for such real property by transferring the owner’s interest in the property to the beneficiaries named in the deed. To be effective, the deed must be recorded in the appropriate recording office prior to the death of the owner.

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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Our 2020 Reminder to Relax and Enjoy Life (Whenever & However You Can)

This year has been hard for so many of us. The pandemic has changed the way we live in dramatic ways, while adding both worry and loneliness to the stress of a major election year. As the year comes to a close, however, we are so grateful for our health, for each other and for our clients and our trusted advisors. We'd like to take a moment to remind you to care for yourselves by sharing some of our favorite ways to unwind and decompress.

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

How to Own Your Real Estate in Montana

Real estate encompasses not only one’s primary residence but also other real estate such as a vacation home or a rental property. The ideal form of ownership varies depending on the type of real estate you own. Below, we take a look at the different types of real estate and offer options for ownership for each.

Primary Residence

Because you can sell your primary residence exempt of capital gains taxes on the first $250,000 of gain if you are single and $500,000 if married, you should carefully consider how your home is owned. In Montana, joint tenancy with rights of survivorship allows couples to take advantage of the tax benefits for primary residences.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Estate Planning Terms to Know

Estate planning—it is an incredibly important tool, not just for the wealthy or those thinking about retirement. On the contrary, estate planning is something every adult should do. Estate planning can help you accomplish any number of goals, including appointing guardians for minor children, choosing healthcare agents to make decisions for you should you become ill, minimizing taxes so you can pass more wealth onto your family members, and stating how and to whom you would like to pass your estate on to when you pass away.

While it should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list, it can be an overwhelming topic to dive into. To help you get situated, below are some important terms to know as you think about your own estate plan.

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Estate Planning Strategies to Consider in an Election Year

With a push by the Democratic party to return federal estate taxes to their historic norms, taxpayers need to act now before Congress passes legislation that could adversely impact their estates. Currently, the federal estate and gift tax exemption is set at $11.58 million per taxpayer. Assets included in a decedent’s estate that exceed the decedent’s remaining exemption available at death are taxed at a federal rate of 40 percent (with some states adding an additional state estate tax). However, each asset included in the decedent’s estate receives an income tax basis adjustment so that the asset’s basis equals its fair market value on the date of the decedent's death.
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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Potential Tax Law Changes That Would Affect Estate Planning

The 2020 election is almost upon us. The past has taught us that trying to predict the results of an election are futile at best. Still, estate planning clients need timely counsel as to how the election may impact their financial futures. Estate planning attorneys strive to help clients stay informed and suggest opportunities for clients to respond to changes. While we do not know exactly what the future holds, we do have strong clues as to what the tax laws may look like if the balance of power shifts in 2021 from Republican to Democrat hands.

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Work of a Legal Assistant

If you Google “Legal Assistant” you would find job descriptions that list seemingly boring administrative tasks with perhaps a few interesting things mixed in. You might even find the ever-popular joke:

Legal assistant (n.)
a person who babysits lawyers

People have a lot of ideas about what Chris, Charlene, LaTonya, Adair and I do – ideas ranging from Roz in Monsters Inc. to Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

We wanted to give you an idea of what it’s really like to work at Scott, Tokerud & McCarty.

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