Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 1. General Provisions

Time Limit On Probate, Testacy, And Appointment Proceedings -- Exceptions

72-3-122. Time limit on probate, testacy, and appointment proceedings -- exceptions. (1) No informal probate or appointment proceeding or formal testacy or appointment proceeding, other than a proceeding to probate a will previously probated at the testator's domicile and appointment proceedings relating to an estate in which there has been a prior appointment, may be commenced more than 3 years after the decedent's death, except:

(a) if a previous proceeding was dismissed because of doubt about the fact of the decedent's death, appropriate probate, appointment, or testacy proceedings may be maintained at any time thereafter upon a finding that the decedent's death occurred prior to the initiation of the previous proceeding and the applicant or petitioner has not delayed unduly in initiating the subsequent proceeding;

(b) appropriate probate, appointment, or testacy proceedings may be maintained in relation to the estate of an absent, disappeared, or missing person for whose estate a conservator has been appointed at any time within 3 years after the conservator becomes able to establish the death of the protected person;

(c) a proceeding to contest an informally probated will and to secure appointment of the person with legal priority for appointment in the event the contest is successful may be commenced within the later of 12 months from the informal probate or 3 years from the decedent's death;

(d) an informal appointment or a formal testacy or appointment proceeding may be commenced thereafter, if no proceedings concerning the succession or estate administration have occurred within the 3-year period after the decedent's death, but the personal representative has no right to possess estate assets provided in 72-3-606 beyond that necessary to confirm title to the property in the successors to the estate, and claims other than expenses of administration may not be presented against the estate; and

(e) a formal testacy proceeding may be commenced at any time after 3 years from the decedent's death for the purpose of establishing an instrument to direct or control the ownership of property passing or distributable after the decedent's death from one other than the decedent when the property is to be appointed by the terms of the decedent's will or is to pass or be distributed as a part of the decedent's estate or its transfer is otherwise to be controlled by the terms of the decedent's will.

(2) These limitations do not apply to proceedings to construe probated wills or determine heirs of an intestate.

(3) In cases under subsection (1)(a) or (1)(b), the date on which a testacy or appointment proceeding is properly commenced shall be deemed to be the date of the decedent's death for purposes of other limitations provisions of this code which relate to the date of death.

History: En. 91A-3-108 by Sec. 1, Ch. 365, L. 1974; R.C.M. 1947, 91A-3-108; amd. Sec. 9, Ch. 582, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 25, Ch. 592, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 58, Ch. 313, L. 2019.