Please view, download, or print a copy of this report on this page

estate planning report image


  • 70% of Montanans die without a without a will
  • 92% of participants did not know who would receive property under Montana law if they died without a written will.
  • 75% did not know Montana eliminated the inheritance tax in 2001. 
  • 77% did not know a will has to pass through probate to be declared legal.
  • 96% did not know how property passes in a married couple situation when held in sole ownership by one spouse. 


  • TEACH Montana families/individuals about the potential consequences to their family's well being when they let state law determine their heirs.
  • COLLABORATE with the Business, Estates, Taxes, Trusts, and Real Property Section (BETTR) of the State Bar of Montana to develop MontGuides (fact sheets) with legally accurate information about state and federal laws impacting their estate planning goals.
    • Montanans to assure family well being by attaining their estate planning goals. 
    • Montanans to pass assets to their beneficiaries without a costly probate.


As a result of attending MSU Extension estate/legacy planning programs, participants reported they accomplished the following:

  • 69% Added payable on death designations and transfer on death registrations to their financial accounts.
  • 65% Reviewed ownership titles on their financial accounts.
  • 62% Reviewed an existing will.
  • 59% Discussed estate planning with a spouse.
  • 49% Reviewed beneficiary designations on their stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
  • 50% Discussed estate planning with adult children.
  • 46% Discussed estate planning with adult children.
  • 38% Made an appointment with an attorney to have a will written or revised.

ESTATE PLANNING by the Numbers

1,771 Estate Planning: The Basics Packet

Since 2001 1,771 Montanans purchased packets. Their names were added to mailing list to receive updates when state and federal laws change.  To order go to: Or, contact your local county Extension office.

46 Estate Planning MSU Extension MontGuides/ Fact Sheets developed

1,383 Requests for Dying Without a Will CD from 2010 - 2020

36,275 hits on the Dying Without a Will Website from 2010 - 2020

271 estate planning presentations from 2016-2019

8,248 participants attending from 2016-2019

Participant Comments:

"Used information to set up my mother's affairs."

"This was very informative. You presented a boring topic in a fun way. Lots of good examples and the clickers were great!"

"Made beneficiary deeds on home and business. Made financial and medical power of attorney documents."

"Very interesting. Enjoyed it. Learned some new things."

"Helped elderly parents review their estate plan."

"I had questions about going through probate for my parents estate. Although I was living in Las Vegas at the time, I could not have been more impressed with the help I received."

"Thanks it was good to learn all Montana's requirements and laws. I had it all wrong. Thanks Again."

"I'm so relieved the workshop helped me so much in understanding the process. Thank you. I recommend it to everyone."

"Filed homestead declaration. Completed financial and health care POA."