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Overview of the Montana Court System

There are seven different courts in Montana, making it a somewhat complex affair for Montanans to figure out which court to visit with their particular legal issue. The court structure can fundamentally be broken down, however, into three tiers: limited jurisdiction, general jurisdiction and appellate. Each court has progressively more judicial power.

The courts of limited jurisdiction are the justice's courts, the municipal courts and the city courts. These courts tend to hear the same sorts of cases but are located in different areas. Cases heard by the courts of limited jurisdiction include minor civil cases, preliminary criminal hearings, traffic infractions, ordinance violations and some DUI cases.

The results of trials in the limited jurisdiction courts may be appealed to the district courts. As the most ubiquitous general jurisdiction courts, the district courts hear more extensive civil cases as well as all misdemeanor and felony trials. They also handle all family law issues, juvenile issues, probate law and mental health cases. The other two general jurisdiction courts are more focused in their scope, with the Montan Water Court handling water rights issues and the the Montana
Workers' Compensation Court handling workers' compensation disputes.

The appellate court is known as the Montana Supreme Court, which hears appeals of decisions made in the general jurisdiction courts. The Supreme Court's decision is final in the state of Montana.

Montana Attorneys and Lawyers

When faced with a legal issue, contacting an experienced attorney is always the best bet. At LawInfo you can search for a skilled, Lead Counsel Rated Montana attorney by location and by practice area. We have Montana attorneys who dedicate their practice to specific areas of the law, so you will not only find an attorney, but an attorney who is knowledgeable to help you with your particular legal issue.

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Montana Legal Forms

LawInfo offers free Montana legal forms and documents to help resolve many of your issues on your own. Whether you need a power of attorney or you want to complete your will, we have you covered. You can click on our most popular forms located in the right column of this page. A user account is required to use the service, but it’s completely free.

Renting your property to a tenant can provide you with a secure stream of monthly income, but you need to be aware of the potential risks inherent in the landlord/tenant relationship. One of the best ways to mitigate many of the risks is to spell out the legal liabilities and responsibilities of both parties in a written contract. Our free Montana Residential Lease Agreement can be a boon to landlords seeking to reduce their risk and achieve peace of mind during the renting process.

You can also find free Last Will and Testament documents in LawInfo for your convenience. A last will gives you the ability to pass your belongings on to your descendants, family members and loved ones according to your desires rather than according to intestate succession laws. A will also makes the process easier for loved ones by listing your last wishes clearly. It is important to file a Last Will and Testament because you never know when an accident might occur.

Unexpected situations can happen at any time, and if you become medically incapacitated, you will need someone to make the important decisions about your finances, health care and legal matters. A Power of Attorney document designates someone to have that authority. Because a catastrophic accident or adverse medical event can happen at any time, it is a prudent decision to file Power of Attorney documents, which you can find for free here from LawInfo.

Starting a Montana Business

As a budding Montana entrepreneur, you likely have a lot on your plate with your dreams for starting a business. There are many resources available to help you with your task, including several at the Montana Department of Commerce, a repository of information on small business in the state. You should do your research on how to draw up a business plan, do market research and keep a budget before you begin filing paperwork with the state.

Step two in the business creation process is to choose a good business structure, which will have affordable tax requirements, comfortable liability levels and reasonable regulatory concerns. For example, sole proprietorships have somewhat more personal financial liability, but the taxes are less, and the regulations are not as extensive. Corporate structures demand a little more time and taxes, but your personal finances are somewhat more protected.

Montana Business Statistics

Small businesses are a major part of the Montana economy. They employ 68.4 percent of the private-sector workforce in the state. The robust economy led to an unemployment rate around 5.3 percent in 2013, a full two points lower than the overall national rate.

Montana is home to nearly 115,000 small businesses, accounting for 97.5 percent of all employers. The strong economy in the state resulted in a 4 percent gross state product rise in 2011. The state is clearly a small-business powerhouse, with only 795 large employers in 2011 and none of them Fortune 500 companies.