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Basic Wyoming Probate Terms

Learn About Probate in Wyoming

Wyoming Asset Protection Trust-Trust Attorney

Basic Estate Planning Terms

Bequest and Devise

The act of giving property to someone by will. Technically, a bequest refers to a gift of personal property, while a devise is a gift of real property. However, this distinction is often disregarded. "Bequeath" is a verb referring to the act of making a bequest. Learn about these and other terms from our estate planning attorney can assist you with these matters.and by following the links.


A person who has the requisite legal capacity to do something, such as execute a will or act as PR, because he or she is of legal age and sound mind.

Creditor Protection Trust

A person or company to whom the estate has outstanding debts is a creditor. If proper planning took place, then creditor demands can be forestalled. In addition, beneficiaries may be designated their own asset protection trust.


A person who has died.

Tenancy in Common

Property can be owned by multiple persons in three forms: • Tenancy in Common. Ownership by two or more persons with no right of survivorship. In other words, if one owner (called a "tenant in common") dies, his or her share of the property does not immediately pass to the other tenants in common.

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship

Ownership by two or more persons with a right of survivorship. When one joint tenant dies, the other joint tenants automatically receive the deceased owner's share of the property.

Tenancy by the Entirety

A special form of tenancy that provides, among other features, a right of survivorship and applies only between married persons.

Life Estate

An interest in property measured by the length of a person's life. Once the person with the life estate has passed, the property will go to a different person.

Letters Testamentary

Documents issued by the probate court giving the executor or personal representative authority to act on behalf of a decedent's estate.

Personal Representative

The person tasked with administering a decedent's estate. Personal representatives include those appointed by the terms of a decedent's will (also known as "executors") and those appointed by a court to administer the estate of an intestate decedent (also known as "administrators"). At times, people may use these words interchangeably.

Tangible Personal Property

Personal property that has physical form and can be seen, weighed, measured, felt, or touched, such as furniture, silverware, and books. (Black's Law Dictionary, "Tangible Personal Property," 2009, 9th edition)

Transfer on Death Deed

A deed that automatically transfers real property upon the death of its owner in accordance with Wyoming law.

Surviving Spouse

The decedent's surviving husband or wife.

Elective Share

The portion of a deceased spouse's probate estate that a surviving spouse is entitled to claim according to Wyoming law. If a spouse is cut out of a will, they can still get an elective share.


All personal and real property owned by the decedent at the time of death.


A person who must act for the benefit of another. Many roles can be considered "fiduciary," ranging from the PR of an estate to the director of a corporation, the general commonality being that the relationship is marked by a number of duties, including good faith, trust, confidence, and candor.

Heir, Distributee, and Beneficiary

A person or entity entitled to receive portions of a decedent's estate. Technically, an "heir" is a person, other than the surviving spouse, who would receive a portion of an intestate estate if the decedent had died without a will; a "distributee" is a person entitled to receive property under the terms of a will; a "beneficiary" is a person entitled to receive the benefit of property held by a trust. The terms, however, are often used interchangeably.

Personal Property

Property other than real property (see "Real Property" and "Tangible Personal Property").

Petition for Letters of Administration

A document filed by an applicant requesting letters testamentary regarding the estate of a person who died without a will (see "Testacy").

Petition for Probate

A document filed with the probate court by an estate's prospective PR requesting that a will be admitted to probate.

Probate Estate.

Property owned by a decedent at death that is transferred by will or intestacy statutes through the probate court. (In re Ogburn's Estate, 406 P.2d 655, 660 (Wyo. 1965). The probate estate does not include certain types of property that do not change ownership through a will (see "Will"), including property held by a revocable trust, joint tenancy property, life insurance death benefits, etc.

Real Property

An interest in land (also known as "real estate"), as well as certain interests closely associated with land, such as fixtures, growing crops, and minerals that have not yet been extracted from the earth. (Restatement of the Law of Property § 8 (1936)

Self-Proving Will

A will that meets requirements of W.S. §2-6-114 and does not require additional proof to be admitted to probate because it includes a notarized affidavit signed by two witnesses.


A decedent who dies with a valid will is considered to have died "testate." A decedent who dies without a will is considered to have died "intestate." A person who creates (or "executes") a will is called a "testator.


A legal document that a competent adult may create before his or her death indicating how his or her estate should be divided, as well as other matters.

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