Below is a Link to a sample Last Will & Testament:
- A Last Will & Testamentl is a document that is drafted, typically placed in a safe place, and only goes into effect when the person who created the Will passes away.
- The Will designates an Executor of the Estate and provides direction for how the estate assets are to be distributed when the decedent passes away.
- The Executor named in the Will is in charge of filing the Will with the Court, and a probate estate is opened, which is commonly referred to as the probate process.
The probate process in Wyoming generally consists of the following:
- The Will is filed with the Court.
- An Executor is appointed to administer the Estate.
- The Executor notifies the family members and beneficiaries of the Estate, and creditors of the Estate that the Decedent passed away.
- The Executor publishes a legal notice in the newspaper that the decedent passed away and that the Estate is being administered in the Court system.
- Creditors of the decedent then have approximately three months to file a claim against the estate for liabilities or debts owed.
- The Executor in is charge of gathering and taking care of the assets of the Estate.
- The Executor will file an inventory with the Court, identifying the assets of the Estate, will obtain appraisals, and provide values for the assets of the Estate.
- The Executor will file an accounting of the assets, income, receipts, expenses and disbursements of the estate in a Final Report and Accounting to the Court.
- The Executor will provide the Court with a proposed Distribution of the Estate, together with the payment of the expenses of the Estate.
- Once the Court considers and approves of the documents filed with the Court, the Executor will then be in charge of paying the claims and debts of the Estate and distributing the assets from the Estate to the named beneficiaries under the Will.
- Once the estate assets are distributed and debts are paid, the Executor will close the Estate.
- The probate process takes approximately six months to one year to complete, but it could take a longer period of time.
In the event that the Estate is less than $200,000, the Estate may be subject to an abbreviated probate process, or distribution through informal means via the filing of a sworn statement (Affidavit of Distribution) by the beneficiaries of the Estate. This is dependent upon a number of factors and the type of assets owned by the Estate.
In the event that the decedent left property in more than one state, the estate may be subject to multiple probate administrations in different states.
The potential downsides of a Will based estate plan, include:
- The estate may be subject to the probate process that can be lengthy and expensive.
- The legal fees and executor fees may be higher than with a Trust based estate administration.
- The probate process, Will, and information filed with the Court is of public record.
- The assets of the decedent may be frozen for a period of time, upon the death of the decedent, or during the probate administration.
- There may be appraisal fees, publication fees, or other costs that may otherwise not be required through a Trust administration.
- A probate administration may need to be opened up in more than one state, if there is property in different states.
The main benefits of a Will based estate plan, include:
- A Will is usually a little more simple and less expensive to set up.
- A Will may be more appropriate when a client has a small estate.
- Some people may feel more comfortable with, or have an easier time understanding, a Will.