Law Offices of Church, Harris, Johnson & Williams, P.C.
Main Office: 114 Third Street S, Great Falls, Montana 59401 • 406-761-3000 • Fax 406-453-2313

Practice Areas

Estate Planning/Wills

For seven decades, Church, Harris, Johnson & Williams, P.C. has enjoyed an unsurpassed reputation in the field of estate planning and estate and trust administration. From simple wills to the most complex trust arrangements, our attorneys will tailor an estate plan to fit your specific objectives. Although we represent clients with widely varying economic circumstances and family backgrounds, our firm is particularly well-equipped to provide estate planning services for large net worth clients and clients who own family business interests. A number of our attorneys have advanced degrees (LL.M) in tax law.  Two of our attorneys are Fellows of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and one is a past president.

The training and experience of our attorneys is second to none in the state of Montana and the quality of our attorneys and support staff allows us to handle even the most complex tax and estate planning matters efficiently and effectively for our clients. Church, Harris, Johnson & Williams, P.C. has an entire department devoted to trust and estate administration, with a staff who work diligently assisting in the administration of trusts and estates.

Every individual has an estate plan. Not every individual has any idea of what that estate plan might be. Regardless of the actual techniques someone might use, whether those might be wills, trusts, joint tenancy ownerships or others, the four core goals of estate planning remain essentially the same. They are:

1. Lifetime Considerations: One of the most important parts of estate planning deals with considerations of management of one's property during lifetime, not only its disposition at death. Examples of this type of planning would be powers of attorney which permit others to manage your property or personal affairs for you, even if you are disabled or otherwise unable to do this on your own. Other examples would be simple forms of creditor protection planning, shifting income within a family, or Medicaid or other government program planning whereby qualification for various programs is assured while protecting one's other assets.

2. Disposition of Property at Death: One's estate plan will govern the ultimate disposition of property at death. Done correctly, it will not only dispose of property to the proper beneficiaries, but it can also protect that property from a particular beneficiary's inability to manage it, whether by reason of age, disability or simple profligacy.

3. Tax and Asset Conservation Planning: Proper planning also includes taking steps to reduce unnecessary losses in the amount of property going to one's family or other beneficiaries. This can mean proper structuring of transfers to those beneficiaries, or, in the remarkably few instances where an individual actually has estate or other death tax concerns (perhaps as few as 3% of the decedents actually have any concern), then proper tax planning is essential to avoid paying unnecessary taxes.

4. Providing for Obligations: To the extent liquidity is necessary at death, whether for payment of taxes, purchasing the decedent's interest in a business, providing for support of dependants or any other similar obligations, then arrangements must be made, whether through the use of insurance, liquidation of assets or other means, to meet those obligations. Planning ahead reduces the stress of these situations.