old couple on computer, kids and parents, work and retirement crossroads, piggy bank, retirement office


Classes offered by BuyEatLiveBetter

  • Did you know that MSU Extension offers a variety of online classes that cover topics such as healthy cooking and how to stretch your food dollars?
  • Follow the link to search for upcoming classes!
  • https://buyeatlivebetter.org/classes.html

Food Fact Sheets

  • From apples to zucchini, these food fact sheets created by MSU Extension will provide you valuable growing, harvesting, selection, storage, nutrition, prep, and processing information.
  • View Food Facts Page


BuyEatLiveBetter helps Montanas save money on food,  and make healthy eating choices. Need ideas for food that won't break the bank and keep you healthy? Check these out!

MSU Extension Family Economics

Date Time Location Title of Presentation/
March 3, 2021 12:05 PM - 12:55 PM Online

Solid Finances Webinar:

Preparing to Meet with an Investment Advisor

Scheduling periodic meetings with your investment advisor can be an important aspect of achieving your financial goals. Many people put these meetings off, don't schedule them at all, or don't prepare for the meeting in advance. A little bit of preperation can help your investment advisor create a plan will help you achieve your goals.

For more information and to attend this webinar visit:



March 4, 2021 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM Online

MT Kinship Navigator Program 101

If you attend, you will:

  • Understand what families MTKNP is able to serve
  • Identify what resources we can offer and where you can connect with them
  • Brainstorm future opportunities to collaborate with MT Kinship Navigator program.

Register for MT Kinship Navigator Program 101

March 5, 2021 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Online

Agricultural Economics Virtual Conference in March

MSU Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics and MSU Extension will host a 2021 Agricultural Economics Outlook Conference on Friday March 5th from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM.

This event is free and open to the public and will be a virtual conference.

Register Here


  • Welcome
    • 9:00 AM
  • Montana Commodity Market Update
    • 9:00 - 9:20
    • Eric Belasco
    • Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University
  • Recreational Marijuana
    • 9:25 - 9:45
    • Tino Sonora
    • Bureau of Business and Economic Research, University of Montana
  • Economic Impact of Agriculture in Montana
    • 9:50 - 10:10
    • Joel Schumacher
    • Department of Agricultural Economics and Economic, Montana State University
  • Farm Labor Supply and Rising H-2A Guest Worker Demand
    • 10:15 - 10:35
    • Diane Charlton
    • Department of Agricultural Economics and Economic, Montana State University
  • Economic Impact of Covid-19 and Stimulus Programs
    • 10:40 - 11:00
    • George Haynes
    • Department of Agricultural Economics and Economic, Montana State University

For More Information Visit: http://www.montana.edu/extensionecon/familyeconomics/index.html


Updated 09/20

All Montanas should plan for the future. For those who are concerned about memory loss, completing financial, estate and health care documents is even more important.

Anyone could develop some form of dementia or experience a debilitating brain injury from a stroke or accident. These events have the potential to affect one's ability to remember, to reason, and to make decisions about finances, legacies, and health care treatments.

The Montana Legislature has passed laws allowing for the creation of appropriate legal documents, which will assist a person who develops some form of dementia or experiences a brain injury. What specific financial, estate, and health care documents should be implemented and under what circumstances depends upon the situation.

The purpose of this MontGuide is to explore the situations of three Montana couple who face memory loss. The context examines financial, estate/legacy and health care documents recommended to each couple by legal professionals.

Married Couple Situations

Legal Capacity

Once concern about the validity of legal documents, such as a will or power of attourney is, "What was the individual's legal capacity when he/she signed the document?" In general, a person must have sufficient legal capacity to understand the benefits and risks of signing a document concerning the management or administration of his/her affairs.

Financial Power of Attorney (POA)

A Financial POA is a document in which one person gives another person the power to conduct certain financial actions on his/her behalf, such as signing checks, cashing a certificate of deposit, paying bills, or selling a house. The person gives the power is the principal. The person authorized to make decisions on behalf of the principal is the agent.

Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA)

Montana provides a formal, legal way to make health care and end-of-life wishes known to family members and to health care providers. Montana provides a formal, legal way to make health care and end-of-life wishes known to family members and to health care providers.  The primary documents are a Health Care Power of Attourney (HCPOA) and a Living Will.

Written Will

A will is a written document describing how its maker (called testator is Montana) wants property distributed after death.

When is a will effective?

A will has no effect during a person's lifetime. It only becomes effective after death of the testator, if probate is necessary, the will along with an application to probate, is filed by the nominated personal representative. The application is filed with the clerk of the district court in the county where the deceased was a resident. After receiving a letter of appointment from the clerk of the district court, the personal representative can begin administering the estate.

Read Full MontGuide on Planning Documents with Montanans Concerned About Memory Loss (PDF)

According to a Montana State University Extension educator, it is important for individuals to plan ahead for their death and to make what comes easier for their survivors. MSU Extension has a MontGuide: Letter of Last Instructions providing information on how to write a letter of last instruction.

"By writing a letter of last instruction, we can provide essential information needed to reliever our survivors of needless hours of frustration and anguish as they search for the needed important documents during a time of sadness and grief," said Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension family economics specialist.

When listing the location of important documents, Goetting says to be specific - a safety deposit box at a certain bank, in the bottom of the left-hand drawer of a desk, or in a cardboard box on the top-right side of the bedroom closet.

The letter will help those who are sorting through an individual's papers to find facts for a death certificate. Other information, such as how your assests are titled will be necassary to determine which ones must go through probate, Goetting added.

"Once you have signed and date your completed letter, you can decide what parts, if any, you want to copy and share with family members or friends." Goetting said. "Then make several additional copies and place in an easily accessible place. Give one to your attorney and another to your personal representative, who is named in your will to carry out the settlement of your estate."

If a personal representative is not named in a will or an individual dies before writing one, a district judge will appoint one based on the priority list provided in Montana statutes. Goetting noted that individuals should review letters of last instruction annually or when there has been a change in a family situation, such as marriage, divorce, or birth.

Alongside the MontGuide, MSU Extension also has an example worksheet to fill in the necessary information needed for the letter. The worksheet can be found at montana.edu/estateplanning/eppublications.html under No. 21, "Letters of Last Instruction." It can be downloaded as a PDF or a Word document. For the MontGuide and more information, visit https://apps.msuextension.org/montguide/guide.html?sku=MT198904HR.

Montana: Living Life Well

  • A program created to teach self-management skills for those living with chronic disease conditions.
  • Covers general life coping skills and uses action plans to help participants set goals.
  • Family and caregivers of people with chronic disease are encouraged to attend.
  • Meetings last for 2.5 hours once per week for six weeks.
  • View a map of program locations (you will need to click the tab "chronic disease conditions" above the map image when the page opens.)
  • For Employers - Worksite based Living Life Well programming may also be available. Visit the DPHHS Chronic Disease Management website page for more information.

Available Programs and Information Specific to each disease

**All information below was obtained from the Chronic Disease page on the MSU Extension Website.

Why Control Your High Blood Pressure

  • 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure
  • 1 in 2 adults who have high blood pressure doesn't have it controlled
  • Every 39 seconds an adult dies of a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular disease.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can injure or kill you. It's called the "silent killer" because high blood pressure has no symptoms. You may not be aware that it's damaging your arteries, heart, and other organs.

What can happen over time if high blood pressure is untreated or not controlled well?

  • Heart and coronary artery damage that can lead to atherosclerosis (fatty build up in the arteries that cause them to harden), angina, heart diseae, heart attack, and heart failure.
  • Stroke
  • Kidney damage
  • Vision Loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Memory loss
  • Even a small reduction in blood pressure could:
    • Decrease cardiovascular deaths by 36%*
    • Lower the incidence of stroke by 35%*

*Based on a reduction of 15 mmHg and 6 mmHg diastolic BP if over 60 years old. Sources: Adapted from the American Heart Association, Canadian Hypertension Education Program and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vital Signs.

What can you do?

  • Stop smoking
  • Stay physically active
  • Choose a low-sodium diet
  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Regularly monitor your blood pressure at home
  • Lose weight, if needed

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Finding a Mental Health Provider in Montana Guide

Positively Managing Stress

Mental Health Resources for Farmers and Ranchers: Farm Stress Resource Clearinghouse

What is Mental Health?

  • A resource for agriculture workers and their loved ones

MSU Extension - Mental Health First Aid Courses and Trained Instructors

  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an evidence-based, 8-hour mental health literacy course developed in Australia.
  • MHFA prepares participants interested community members to respond with greater knowledge, confidence, and compassion when an adult is experiencing a mental health problem or is having a mental health crisis.
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is similar, but the focus is on training adults to respond to youth, with attention to issues that are specific to youth (developmental considerations, risk factors, etc.)
  • Both versions train participants to use a five-part action plan to provide aid.
  • For more detailed info about these programs, go to https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

MSU Extension - Youth Aware Mental Health Program

  • Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) is a mental health promotion program that aims to raise mental health awareness about risk and protective factors associated with suicide, including the knowledge about depression and anxiety, and to enhance the skills and emotional resiliency needed to deal with stress and crisis.
  • The format of the YAM intervention empowers youth to think, verbalize, and discuss important mental health issues, such as suicide, in a context that is meaningful to them.
  • View a complete list of YAM facilitators and instruction sites here.

Montana Oral Health Program

  • Providing information and resources to promote proper oral health care from birth on.

Strong People Strength Training Program

  • The MSU Extension Strong People Strength Training Program is based on the StrongWomenTMProgram created by Drs. Miriam Nelson and Rebecca Seguin both formerly of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
  • Details of the MSU Extension Strong People Strength Training Program
    • What: A 12-week strength training class designed for older adults (both men and women) who want to stay fit, strong, and healthy. The class meets twice per week for 1 hour.
    • Where: Numerous counties across Montana hold Strong People classes. Please contact your local MSU Extension county office for more information.
    • Cost: Cost for the classes depends on the instructor, though range between $0-$25.
    • Experience: No experience is necessary; however, participants are asked to fill out a health questionnaire prior to enrollment and may have to aquire physician consent.

Visit Quit Now Montana

  • View an interactive map of Montana locations for community programs to aid in quitting tobacco use.

American Indian Commercial Tobacco Program

  • Free resources and help for American Indians seeking assistance with tobacco use.

Learn about E-cigarette usage and Young People

MSU's Tobacco free policy and E-Cigarette FAQ page

Updated 12/20

Misunderstandings can develop about what happens to a brand and livestock marked with the brand after the death of an owner.

This MontGuide explains Montana brand ownership laws as they pertain to estate planning.

Read This Scenario First!

The Rocking R brand as been in John's family for more than 50 years. In 2014, after his marriage to his second wife, Kathy, John decided to add her name as a co-onwer of the Rocking R brand with the Montana Department of Livestock. On the "Assignment of Brand" form he checked the "joint tenancy" box and listed "John Jones, Kathy Jones" as owners.

Rob, John's child from his previous marriage, is actively engaged in the operation of the ranch. For this reason John wants the Rocking R brand to continue to be owned by Rob and his descendants. In 2015, John prepared a will in which he stated "I give teh Rocking R brand to my son, Rob."

During the probate of John's estate, a dispute arose between Kathy and Rob. Kathy declared she is teh owner of the brand and livestock bearing the brand because John indicated "joint tenancy" as the type of ownership when he added Kathy as a co-owner on the Assignment of Brand form. On the other hand, Rob believes he is the owner of the brand and the livestock bearing the brand because John's written will contained a provision specifically giving the brand to him.

What do you think? After John's death, is the Rocking R brand and livestock bearing the brand owned by Kathy, his wife? Or by Rob, his son?

Results at the end of this MontGuide (PDF).

History of Brands in Montana

While brand were first recorded in Montana in 1873, laws regulating brands were not passed until 1885. The Montana Department of Livestock is the agency responsible for recording over 53,000 brands in the state. The Brands Enforcement Division was established to assist with the enforcement of laws governing brands.

Recording a Brand in Montana

Under Montana law, a person may NOT brand his/her livestock unless the brand has been recorded with the Brands Enforcement Division. The recording process begins by obtaining an Application for Brand Recording

More information in this MontGuide

Transferring brands

Multiple ownership of a brand

Joint ownership with right of survivorship recording of a brand

Tenants in common recording of a brand

Business entity recording of a brand

Changes to Over-the-Counter Service

Read full MontGuide on Livestock Brands in Montana (PDF)


The dramatic rise in health care expenses in recent years has been prompted some individuals to combine a high deductible health insurance policy with a federal Health Savings Account (HSA) to control these costs.

HSA's are special savings accounts that were established by federal law to allow eligible individuals to make deposits that can be used to pay for future qualifying medical expenses. Deposits to HSAs reduce an individual's state and federal taxes. Any funds remaining in the HSA at the end of the year may be used to pay for qualifying medical expenses in future years for the individual, his or her spouse dependents.

Qualifying medical expenses include health insurance deductibles and co-payments, long-term care costs, presciptions, dental expenses, eyeglasses and contact lenses, and many other medical expenses.

Special rules apply to medical insurance premiums.

Read full MontGuide on Health Savings Accounts (PDF)

MontGuide outlines the legal and tax ramifications, as well as impacts on emotional and physical health, of financing long-term care.

One major worry for older adults is that costs for long-term care will exhaust their life savings. Some fear that if their assests are depleted by a long-term illness the dignity, security and independence they worked a lifetime to attain will also dissipate.

According to one study among persons age 65 and over, 43 precent are expected to spend some time in a nursing home. Among this population, 55 percent are expected to have total lifetime nursing home care of at least one year and 21 percent will have a total lifetime nursing home care for five or more years.

This MontGuide explores:

  • options for covering long-term care costs
  • eligibility requirements (federal and state) for the Medicaid application process
  • rules about transferring property
  • role of trusts in the protection of assets
  • potential emotional and tax consequences of giving away assests
  • Montana Medicaid lien and estate recovery program

Read Full MontGuide on Medicaid and Long-Term Care Costs (PDF)

MontGuide describes the three main forms of property ownership and provides real-life examples of estate settlement for each.

Title is the manner in which both real and personal property is owned. Title may be proven by certificate, deed, bill of sale, contract, or other document.

A title is more than a piece of paper conveying ownership of a tractor, 100 acres of land, an automobile, a house or safe deposit box. It isn't something to be stuck in a drawer and forgotten. Rather, a title is an important part of a total estate plan. In fact, a title is an important part of a total estate plan. In fact, a will cannot be constructed separate from the titles involved and the information on them.

Titles can affect how property is tranfserred, who will receive it (with or without a will), and the eventual costs of estate settlement and taxes. All of those results depend on the way the property is owned. This MontGuide describes in general three basic forms of property ownership typical to Montana families: sole ownership, joint tenancy, and tenancy in common.

Types of Property

There are two basic types of property - real and personal.

  • Real property is land and whatever is erected, growing on or affixed to it.
    • Examples orf real property include fences, buildings, water systems, mineral deposits, and standing uncut timber.
  • Personal property refers to assests whose ownership arises either out of physical possession of the property, or as the results of a document showing ownership.

Read full MontGuide on Property Ownership: Estate Planning (PDF)