BOZEMAN — Montana State University Extension has a MontGuide available that covers how successors can access a deceased person’s financial accounts.

Montana law provides simplified procedures for successors to acquire a decedent’s accounts at financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, savings and loans firms, brokerage firms, and stocks or bonds companies, says Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension family economics specialist. If the person holding the account with another individual or individuals with rights of survivorship, the surviving joint tenant can legally remove the money from the account.

“If the financial account is solely owned by the decedent with a payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designation, then under Montana law the POD or TOD beneficiary is entitled to the funds,” Goetting said.

For single-party accounts without a POD or TOD beneficiary designation, probate and the appointment of a personal representative are generally required before the accounts can be distributed to successors if the decedent’s estate is worth more than $50,000. If the decedent’s estate does not exceed a value of $50,000, the successor can collect money in the decedent's accounts by presenting proof of identification, a certified death certificate, and an “Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of a Decedent” form.

The “Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of the Decedent” must be signed by the person claiming to be the successor, and the signature must be notarized by a notary public, Goetting said. The form is available at

Paper copies of the “Accessing a Deceased Person's Financial Accounts” MontGuide is available at county and reservation Extension offices.


MSU News Service

07/07/2021 Contact: Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension family economics specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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