Harper & Lee Law Firm, P.C. Billings Attorneys
P. Bruce Harper Attorney at LawMichelle Lee Attorney at Law
Estate Planning and MedicaidOther area of law we practice.contact information for Harper & Lee Law FirmFrequently Asked Questions
lawyers in Billings


When do I need an attorney?
Many people believe that the only time that they need to consult with a lawyer is when they have been charged with a crime, are being sued civilly, or feel as though they have been wronged. There are many other circumstances in which the advice of an attorney is beneficial, however. These matters include planning your estate by preparing trusts, wills and powers of attorney, buying or selling real estate, entering into a contract, and protecting your rights when you or a loved one have been injured in an accident. Because a lawyer is an officer of the court, he or she is authorized to explain and interpret the law for you and to represent your interests both in and out of court.

Additionally, our lawyers are experienced in preparing your estate for long term care or nursing home care in order to save your assets for your loved ones. In addition to preserving your assets, our lawyers are also very experienced in assisting clients with Medicaid and getting approval for Medicaid assistance for nursing home care.

Alternatives to going to court
The courtroom is not the only place where disputes can be resolved. Generally, the court encourages litigants to try to resolve their disputes out of the courtroom. The two most common alternatives to trying a case in a court of law are Arbitration and Mediation.

In arbitration proceedings, the parties select an impartial third-party arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators. Bruce has served as an arbitrator in a number of cases for the American Arbitration Association. An arbitration panel is usually made up of three neutral arbitrators or one neutral and two non-neutral arbitrators. The arbitrator(s) meets with the parties, listen to each party's presentation, determines the facts, and makes a decision Arbitration can either be binding or non-binding. In binding Arbitration, the arbitrator's decision is final and can be enforced as a judgment. In non-binding Arbitration, the decision is merely a recommendation and gives both parties a good idea of what would likely be the final outcome of a trial.

Mediation is a confidential meeting where a mediator helps parties exchange information and consider possible solutions. A mediator does not issue orders, give opinions on how the case should be resolved or advocate for either party.

Mediation is a non-adversarial, cooperative method which clears the way for open and helpful communication between the parties. Mediation is particularly helpful where the parties will be involved in an ongoing relationship after the dispute is resolved, such as families or business associates.

Mediation is often a requirement of Montana law before a case may proceed to trial. It is frequently utilized by attorneys involved in litigation as a voluntary method of resolving the dispute. Bruce has served as a mediator in a number of cases for which he has been selected by Montana attorneys seeking assistance to resolve a disputed issue.

How can I save money on attorney fees?
In order to save money on attorney fees, it is always best that prior to any meeting, gather all papers related to your situation and write down all facts you can recall and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all persons involved. The following is a list of information that is generally necessary to collect prior to initiating a dissolution of marriage or an estate plan:

  • Family Information, such as names, birth dates, addresses, occupations and social security numbers.
  • What real estate you own, the types of property, size, location and description, year acquired, cost, how it is titled, and the current market value.
  • What personal property you own, such as motor vehicles, livestock, home furnishings, jewelry, art, antiques, and other personal items, how the items are titled and their value.
  • Checking and Savings Account information, including how they are titled.
  • Any information relating to stocks, bonds or other securities.
  • Any Life Insurance policies, who is the insurer, policy number, face amount and beneficiary information.
  • Any trusts in which you are the trustee of or in which you may have a future interest in.
  • Any notes, mortgages and other real estate debts.
  • Any liens against any property.
  • Your personal liabilities.
  • Retirement benefits, including PERS and IRAs.
  • Locations of any important documents, such as any current Wills or Trusts.

Your attorney will need to know all facts of the case, fully and honestly. Our communications with you are protected by the attorney client privilege and we will not disclose anything that you have shared with us unless you give us explicit instructions to do so. Knowing all of the facts in the beginning will save you money by allowing us to prepare in whatever way we need to, avoiding unnecessary delay.

It is always best to get legal advice prior to a problem erupting. It is generally a lot less expensive to prevent a problem than to fix it.

Harper & Lee Law Firm, P.C., provides and maintains this Web site as a general information service to our clients and friends. The information contained on this site does not constitute legal advice and is presented without any representation or warranty whatsoever, including as to accuracy or completeness for any particular purpose. Transmittal of information from this site is not intended to create or establish an attorney-client relationship between the recipient and Harper & Lee Law Firm, P.C.

Phone: 406.255.7474 - Fax: 406.248.1160 - 2625 St. Johns Avenue - P.O. Box 80370 - Billings, Montana 59108