Preparing for death or incapacitation is a natural, responsible, part of adulthood. In the state of Wyoming estate planning can legally begin at age 18 when an individual is able to prepare a will, have it witnessed, and make other preparations in case of emergency. There are many details that should be handled but few of them are as confusing as probate.
During estate planning in Wyoming an individual with titled or deeded property will eventually have to come into contact with their local probate court. This court is responsible for filing all last will and testaments that include the transfer of real estate property, vehicles, or any other property that requires a deed or title. The probate process will directly determine how, and when, heirs will get their inheritance.
Probate is usually handled by a judge that will either appoint an executor (if one has not already been specified) or a personal representative. This appointed individual will handle any petitions or charges against the will which can be filed by disappointed heirs, companies, or businesses that feel the estate owes them money. In order to settle debts and, in some cases, cover the fees accrued by death and estate taxes the property is liquidated into cash to help quickly settle all balances. The remaining estate can then be distributed to the heirs.
There are many who see nothing wrong in going through the probate process in Wyoming. Creating a will during Wyoming estate planning and filing it with probate court might even give an individual a sense of satisfaction and completion. While the negative affects of probate might not be felt by the creator of the will the immediate heirs are often made to suffer after their loved one has passed away.
Dealing with the probate court, representatives, and court appointed executors can often add an extra burden on a family already in mourning. This burden can be doubled if the family or heirs desperately need the assets of an estate left to them to cover funeral expenses, taxes, and other fees. In some situations a family might find itself left with no inheritance to speak of once all debts have been cleared and accounts settled.
There are ways to avoid dealing with the probate court in Wyoming. The first way is to simply liquidate all assets during times of declining health and leave no property that requires a deed or title to heirs. In situations where property must be left to heirs hold the property jointly with tenancy in common giving the survivor the rights to resell or keep the property without dealing with the probate courts.
Estate planning can be a complicated process. To ensure you have taken all the necessary steps to protect your loved ones, consult with a qualified Estate Planning Attorney.