A surviving spouse in Montana has important rights and benefits, including:
- Homestead Allowance
- Exempt Property
- Spousal Allowance
- Elective Share Rights
Surviving Spouse Rights If There Is No Valid Will – Intestate Estate
If a decedent dies without a valid will, they have died intestate. An intestate estate is governed by Montana state law. The widow’s share of the intestate estate depends on decedent’s other survivors. MC 72-2-112.
- Entire estate: If decedent has no descendant or surviving parent, OR has descendants surviving, all of whom are descendants of the spouse, and the spouse has no separate descendants, then the surviving spouse has the right to the entire intestate estate.
- Partial estate: The surviving spouse is entitled to $200,000 plus 3/4 of the balance if decedent has surviving parents but no surviving descendants. The surviving spouse is entitled to $150,000 plus 1/2 of the balance if all of decedent’s surviving descendants are those of the spouse and the spouse has one or more separate descendants surviving. The surviving spouse is entitled to $100,000 plus 1/2 the balance if one or more surviving descendants of decedent are not those of the surviving spouse.
Surviving Spouse Elective Share – Election Against Will
The value of the augmented estate consists of the sum of the values of all property that constitute the decedent’s net probate estate (72-2-234); the decedent’s nonprobate transfers to others (72-2-235); the decedent’s nonprobate transfers to the surviving spouse (72-2-236); and the surviving spouse’s property and nonprobate transfers to others (72-2-237).
The value of the marital property portion of the augmented estate consists of the sum of the values of the four components of the augmented estate, multiplied by the following percentage based on the length of the marriage. MC 72-2-233.