What is probate in Wyoming?
In Wyoming, by probate we mean "estate", which is property that passes by a will, or where there is no will, the property passes by the "intestate" statutes. Wyoming has a Probate Code that requires if you have a will, on passing of the testator, the personal representative or other person must file the will with the court within ten (10) days after the death of the testator. If there is no will, we look to the intestate statutes to determine who the recipients are under the law.
Where There is No Will. The Wyoming Intestate Statutes, W.S. 2-4-1010, provide for the distribution of estates with no will. The first thing to do is determine the family tree, or consanguinity chart.
Second, if the decedent leaves a spouse and children, one half of the estate goes to the surviving spouse and the remaining goes to the children or grandchildren.
Third, if the decedent leaves a spouse and no children, all of the property goes to the surviving spouse.
Fourth, if there is no spouse, then to any surviving children or descendants of any children who are deceased.
Fifth, if there is no spouse or children, nor any descendants of children, then to the decedent's father, mother, brothers and sisters and to the descendants of deceased brothers and sisters.
If none of the foregoing produces a recipient--if there is no surviving spouse, children, or descendants of children, or brothers or sisters and their descendants--then the estate goes to grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts and their descendants.
Some Items are Titled in the Name of a Beneficiary and are Not Part of the Estate--NonProbate Assets. Some items belonging to the decedent are sometimes already titled in the beneficiary's name. For example:
- Beneficiary designations found on 401(k)s, IRAs and life insurance policies;
- Payable on death designations
- Trust property
- Joint tenants with right of survivorship, which can be designated on vehicles and real property
Where there is a Will--Find and Review the Will. Your will should be in a location that can be found easily like your desk at home, a safe, or filing cabinet. You should let your personal representative know where your will is. On your passing, your personal representative should deliver your will to the clerk of the court having jurisdiction of the estate (the county in which the decedent was living). If you cannot find the will, you can contact the Wyoming State Bar. The Wyoming State Bar will ask the members if any of them have a copy of the will.
Once the will has been located, it should be verified to determine if it is a valid will under Wyoming law. In Wyoming, to be valid a will must be in writing, or typewritten, and witnessed by two competent witnesses and signed by the testator or by some person in his presence and by his express direction. The witnesses are required to be competent at the time the will is executed and they must not derive any benefit from the will.
Process When there is a Valid Will. The Wyoming Probate Code provides steps to open the estate, administer it, distribute the assets and close the estate.
If you are contemplating making a will, it is important to consult with an attorney to make sure a proper plan is in place that covers your needs.
If you have a loved one that has passed and you are not sure how to proceed, it is also important to consult with an attorney to make sure the will is administered as outlined above.
I help families and individuals plan their estate and would be happy to talk to you about your questions.
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