Every Montana deed submitted for recording must meet the following standards for formatting, content, and signing.
Formatting Standards for Montana Deeds
Montana sets deed formatting standards by statute. All deeds must be legible and suitable for copying.1 An incorrectly formatted or unreadable deed may be rejected by the county clerk’s office.
Paper, Ink, and Font Size
A Montana deed must be printed on white paper that is either letter size (8½ × 11 inches) or legal size (8½ × 14 inches).2 Deeds must be typed or printed in black or blue ink.3 Montana law does not set a minimum font size, but deeds customarily use at least 10-point type. All handwritten content like signatures and dates must also use blue or black ink.4
A deed’s margins must be at least the following sizes:
- First page, top margin: 3 inches;
- All other top margins: 1 inch;
- Bottom margins: 1 inch; and
- Side margins: ½ inch.5
If included, page numbers may be printed within the deed’s margins.6
Content Requirements for Montana Deeds
A deed must include the information below to comply with Montana law and transfer property effectively.
Current Owner and New Owner Information
The current owner’s and new owner’s names must appear on a Montana deed’s first or second page.7 If the current owner took title under a name different from the name he or she currently uses, the deed must include the prior name. Montana imposes a $50.00 penalty for failure to include a prior name used by the person signing a deed.8
A deed must list the new owner’s mailing address.9 The current owner’s address is usually included but not legally required.
A return address identifying the name and mailing address where the clerk is to return the deed after recording must appear in the top left corner of the deed’s first page. The return address may be within the 3-inch top margin.10
A deed must include a legal description identifying the real estate transferred by the deed.11 Montana allows deeds to use a descriptive name for the real estate (such as the Norris Ranch)—if the property has a descriptive name.12
A vesting clause—or granting clause—declares that the current owner is transferring title to the new owner. A Montana deed’s vesting clause varies based on the type of deed and the deed’s warranty of title (if any).13
A statement of consideration—or the dollar amount or other value provided in exchange for the real estate—is not required for a valid Montana deed.14 Montana law allows deeds to include nominal consideration or state that property is provided “for value received.”
A deed that names multiple new owners should indicate the co-ownership form the new owners will use. Co-owners of Montana real estate can hold title as tenants in common, joint tenants with right of survivorship, or partners.15
Signing Requirements for Montana Deeds
The current property owner who is transferring Montana real estate must sign the deed. An entity signs a deed through an officer, manager, trustee, or authorized agent.16
Power of Attorney
An agent under power of attorney who signs a deed transferring real estate for the property owner must sign the principal’s name and the agent’s own name as attorney-in-fact.17
Spousal Signature for Homestead
A deed transferring title to a Montana homestead owned by a married person must have both spouses’ signatures—even if only one spouse holds title.18
A Montana deed cannot be recorded unless the owner’s signature is acknowledged before a notary. Mont. Code § 70-21-203(1). A deed’s notary acknowledgment and seal are exempt from the ink color and margin requirements that otherwise apply to Montana deeds.19 Montana provides statutory short forms for notary certificate.20
A Montana deed becomes effective when the current owner who signed the deed delivers the deed to the new owner or to the clerk and recorder’s office.21 Montana law presumes that a signed deed was delivered on the signature date.22
Recording Fees for Montana Deeds
The county clerk and recorder’s office for each Montana county maintains the county land records.23 Montana deeds must be recorded in the county where the property is located.24
The standard fee for recording a Montana deed is $8.00 for each page.25 A clerk who accepts for recording a deed that does not comply with Montana’s formatting requirements can charge an additional fee of $10.00.26
Montana Transfer Tax
Montana does not charge a transfer tax or deed tax for transfers of real estate ownership.
Additional Forms Required with Montana Deeds
All deeds require a transfer certificate, and deeds involving water rights must also be filed with a form outlining the transfer of those rights.
Realty Transfer Certificate (Form RTC)
Montana law requires a completed realty transfer certificate (Form RTC) to be submitted to the clerk and recorder with every deed that transfers title to Montana real estate.27 Form RTC provides information about the transaction—such as the property’s sale price—that the Montana Department of Revenue uses to determine property taxes. If a deed is exempt from disclosing the sale price, Form RTC identifies the applicable exemption.
Deeds Exempt from Sale Price Disclosure
A Form RTC submitted with certain types of deeds need not disclose the property’s sale price—though the form itself is still required.28 Deeds that do not require a sale price disclosure include:
- Deeds transferring land classified as agricultural and expected to continue to be used as agricultural land;
- Deeds confirming, correcting, modifying, or supplementing a previous deed without added consideration;
- Deeds pursuant to a court decree—including a divorce decree;
- Deeds from a decedent’s estate;
- Deeds transferring real estate as a gift;
- Deeds between husband and wife or parent and child with only nominal actual consideration for the transfer;
- Deeds that have the effect of transferring real estate to the same party or parties—including transfers to a revocable living trust; and
- Deeds made in contemplation of death.
Note: A realty transfer certificate need not be filed when recording a Montana transfer-on-death (TOD) deed. The beneficiary instead completes and submits Form RTC—along with a copy of the recorded TOD deed and the owner’s death certificate—upon the property owner’s death.
Certification of Water Right Ownership Update (Form 640)
A seller must complete and file with the clerk a Form 640, certification of water right ownership update, if the seller is reserving or dividing water rights associated with the transferred property.29 Form 640, when necessary, is included with Form RTC.
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2617(2).
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2636(1)(a).
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2636(1)(a).
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2636(1)(d).
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2636(1)(e)(i).
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2636(3)(b).
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2636(1)(b).
- Mont. Code § 70-20-109.
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2618.
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2636(1)(f).
- Mont. Code §§ 7-4-2636(1)(c); 70-20-201.
- Mont. Code § 70-20-103.
- Mont. Code §§ 70-20-103; 70-20-304.
- Mont. Code § 70-1-502.
- Mont. Code § 70-1-306.
- See, e.g., Mont. Code § 70-21-203(2).
- Mont. Code § 70-20-108.
- Mont. Code § 70-32-301.
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2636(3).
- Mont. Code § 1-5-610.
- Mont. Code § 70-1-508.
- Mont. Code § 70-1-509.
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2613(1)(a).
- Mont. Code § 70-21-208.
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2637(1).
- Mont. Code § 7-4-2637(2).
- Mont. Code § 15-7-305(1).
- Mont. Code § 15-7-307.
- Mont. Code § 85-2-424(6).