Probate is a word that scares many people. It sounds complicated. And expensive. When it comes up, it often means that someone close to us has died.
Dealing with complex legal issues while also dealing with the loss of a loved one is indeed difficult.
On this page we will try to ease your fears about probate in Wyoming. It is not always complicated, or even expensive.
Probate is the legal process used to transfer the property of the decedent (a person that died) to his or her beneficiaries.
There are basically two types of probate estates in Wyoming.
Probate of a Small Estate
A small estate contains personal property and/or real property, with a combined value of less than $200,000. These small estates are probated with an Affidavit for Distribution and/or an Application for Decree of Distribution.
The Affidavit for Distribution and the Application for Decree of Distribution can be used individually or together, depending on whether the decedent owned real property or personal property, or both. However, the total value of real and personal property must be less than $200,000.00.
Affidavit for Distribution
This is the simplest and cheapest probate. If the value of the estate is less than $200,000, then you can use an affidavit. This is a simple document that transfers title of the decedent’s personal property.
The court is not even involved. You prepare the affidavit and record it with the county clerk. Then you can just present the affidavit to change title to cars, close bank accounts, etc.
Application for Decree of Distribution
If the estate is valued at less than $200,000, but contains real property, then you use this method to transfer the real property. It does involve the Court, but is still pretty straightforward. It also does not take all that long, and does not cost too much.
You file the application with the Court, and a hearing is set. Notice of the application and the hearing is then published in a local paper.
Most of the time, no one shows up at the hearing, and the Judge issues the Decree of Distribution. This Decree is then recorded with the county clerk, and you are done.
If the value of the probate estate is greater than $200,000.00, then the estate must be “probated.” This is the longest and most expensive method used to transfer the decedent’s estate to the heirs.
The process will take at least three months. It will also cost at least $4,500 in court costs, advertising costs, and attorney fees. If the personal representative is paid, then their fee will be at least $4,000 as well.
The probate will have to be opened. The heirs of the decedent will have to be notified. In addition, a notice of the probate will have to be published in a local paper. Known creditors also need to be notified.
The estate assets will have to be inventoried, and then appraised. The creditors will have to be paid.
All of the monies and property will have to be accounted for, and the accounting submitted to the Court for approval. The proposed disposition to the heirs will also need to be approved by the Court.
By Steve Harton
How can we help?
Here at the Harton Law Firm, we can help help you evaluate what kind of probate are you facing. We can help you prepare an affidavit for distribution, file an application for decree of distribution, or open a formal probate. So take the next step and schedule a consultation!