Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Wyoming wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with you, the testator (the person making the will), to create valid Wyoming wills and to assign a person (called the executor in most states) to administer a Wyoming last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements for a Wyoming Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old.
Capacity: The testator must be of sound mind (capable of reasoning and making decisions).
Signature: A Wyoming last will and testament must be signed by the testator or by some other person under the testator's direction in the testator's presence.
Witnesses: At least 2 witnesses (who are not beneficiaries) are required for a valid Wyoming last will and testament by subscribing their names to the will, or by signing an affidavit, while in the presence of the testator and at the testator's direction or request.
Writing: A Wyoming last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A will may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Holographic Wills: A holographic will is one that is handwritten by the testator. Although Wyoming law recognizes a handwritten will, state laws can be very particular regarding handwritten wills. Handwritten wills that are not properly executed are invalid in Wyoming
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, a Wyoming wills form allows you to dispose of your property as you wish once your debts have been paid and the rights of your surviving spouse and children have been covered.
Other Purposes of Wills:
LegalZoom's Wyoming wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Wyoming wills from may be used to create a trust and designate a trustee to handle an estate (property left after death) on behalf of children or others.
Our Wyoming wills form may also be used to name an executor to handle a decedent's (the person who died) property and affairs from the time of death until an estate is settled.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Jointly owned property with the rights of survivorship automatically passes onto the survivor.
Elective share of spouse: A surviving spouse may elect to take one-half share of all property subject to disposition under the will if not provided for in the will if there are no surviving children or if the spouse is the parent of at least one surviving child of the decedent. If the spouse is not the parent of a surviving child of the decedent, then the spouse's elective share is one-fourth of the property subject to disposition.
Providing for Pets
Under applicable Wyoming state laws, a trust for the care of your pets is valid. After your death, the trust allows you to assign a caretaker for your pet(s) to ensure proper care of your pet.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
A Wyoming will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A Wyoming will and testament can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Wyoming probate laws.
Revoking a Will
A Wyoming will and testament, or any part thereof, can be revoked:
By a subsequent will that revokes, or partially revokes, the prior will expressly or by conflicting or different parts; or
By being burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated, or destroyed, with the intent and for the purpose of revoking the same, by the testator or by another person in the presence and by the direction of the testator.
Revocation of a will in its entirety revokes its codicils, unless revocation of a codicil would be contrary to the testator's intent.
Probate and Estate Taxes
Probate is a legal process for starting the transfer of property when the testator dies. The procedures validate the Wyoming last will and determine ownership of the property. Property that does not pass via community property, right of survivorship, trust, or insurance is subject to probate proceedings.
After the Wyoming last will is admitted at court, the executor files applications for the probate of a will and for legal documents called letters testamentary.
Several important functions of probate proceedings include:
Collecting, or taking possession of, the decedent's property.
Protecting and preserving the decedent's estate.
Paying all debts, claims and taxes.
Determining who is entitled to the assets and distributing the property accordingly.
Wyoming's estate tax is a "pick-up" tax designed to absorb the federal estate tax credit for state death taxes. No additional estate tax is imposed. The federal tax is based on the value of assets in the taxable estate. The Wyoming estate tax is equal to the state death tax credit allowed on the federal tax return. Filing a Wyoming estate tax return does not increase the total tax liability of the estate, but instead redirects revenues to the state which would go to the federal government.
It is extremely important to make a Wyoming will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Wyoming state laws.
The net estate (after paying debts, taxes, administrative costs, and funeral expenses) of a decedent who does not make a Wyoming will is distributed to the surviving spouse and other heirs in adherence to Wyoming state laws.
For example, without creating a valid will, if you die leaving a spouse and 2 children, one-half (1/2) of the estate will go to the surviving husband or wife, and the remainder of the estate will go to the surviving children (1/4 each).
If you make a Wyoming will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.