Who is the distributee of real property and how is that determined in Wyoming?
Mrs. Ross applied for a decree of summary distribution of real property in the estate of her grandfather. Her grandfather, Mr. Frank, died in 1990 in Wyoming, where he owned property. Mr. Frank bequeathed his estate to his wife. She died in 1991. Mrs. Frank bequeathed her estate to her five children. Of the five children, one was a daughter, Ardith, who died without a will and her estate was never probated. Ardith's spouse also is deceased.
Mrs. Ross claims she is a distributee under her grandfather's will, along with the four surviving children of her grandfather, her uncles. She asked the court to distribute Mr. Frank's real property in equal shares to all five of them, and to resolve the estate of her grandfather, Mr. Frank; his wife, Emily Frank and their deceased daughter, Ardith Ross, and Henry Ross.
However, The Wyoming legislature has promoted the purpose of making effective the intent of a decedent in distribution of his property by writing the summary distribution statute and the definition of distributee to address a single decedent (not the the five decedents proposed by Mrs. Ross). The statutes and public policy do not indicate that the legislature intended the summary distribution proceeding to adjudicate more than one decedent's estate.
In particular, the statutes' focus is on a single decedent's estate while also providing for an efficient proceeding for distribution of property in smaller estates, not exceeding $200,000 in value.
The "summary distribution" available in Wyoming Statutes 2-1-205(a) was written for the smaller value real property estate. It can also be used for nonresidents who have real property interests here because someone they owned the property with is now deceased.
Limiting the scope of distributees to only those who are entitled to a decedent's property through his immediate will or through intestate succession (where there is no will) promotes the use the Wyoming legislature intended for smaller estates that are uncomplicated by lines of inheritance.
In other words, a "distributee" applies only to persons who are entitled to property of a decedent through that decedent's will or the statutes in Wyoming for intestate (no will) succession as applied to that decedent.
It should be noted that Wyoming statute 2-9-201 provides in part, that when more than two (2) years have elapsed since the death of a person residing in this state, and there has been no previous, record judicial determination of the decedent's heirs or the right of descent of the real property interest, any heir of the deceased or other person having derived title to any real property or any interest therein from the deceased or from any of his heir either by direct or intermediate conveyance may make application by petition to the court for determination of the time of death of the decedent and a determination of the heirs of the deceased, the degree of kinship and the right of descent of the real property belonging to the deceased.
If you or a family member is the descendant of someone that owned real property in this state but is now deceased, it is import to consult with a real property and probate law professional to make sure a proper proceeding occurs to transfer the real property to the correct person. I help you review your documents and ownership and would be happy to talk to you about your particular situation. I offer a free telephone consultation (307.200.1914) or videoconference.