To make a valid will under Wyoming law, the will must be:
- In writing, or typewritten
- Witnessed by two competent witnesses
- Signed by the testator or by some person in his presence and by his express direction.
The requirements under Wyoming law to make a valid will are found at Wyoming Statutes § 2-6-112.
Who Can Make a Valid Will In Wyoming?
Any person of legal age and sound mind may make a will and dispose of all of his property by will except what is sufficient to pay his debts, and subject to the rights of the surviving spouse and children. WY Stat § 2-6-101. To be of sound mind under Wyoming law, a testator must be able to comprehend:
- The extent and nature of the estate,
- the identity of the beneficiaries and their relationship, whether by blood or circumstances, to the testator, and
- the nature of the testamentary act, that it is a disposition of property to take effect at death.
In Matter of Estate of Roosa, the Wyoming Supreme Court explained the standard for testamentary capacity to make a valid will under Wyoming law:
Testator must have sufficient strength and clearness of mind and memory, to know, in general, without prompting, the nature and extent of the property of which he is about to dispose, and nature of the act which he is about to perform, and the names and identity of the persons who are to be the objects of his bounty, and his relation towards them. He must have sufficient mind and memory to understand all of these facts, and to comprehend these elements in their relation to each other, and a charge, in negative form, that capacity is lacking if testator is not able to know all of these facts, is erroneous, since he lacks capacity if he is unable to understand any one of them. He must be able to appreciate the relation of these factors to one another, and to recollect the decision which he has formed.
A Wyoming Will Must Be Properly Witnessed
Wyoming law requires that a will is witnessed by two competent witnesses to be valid. WY Stat § 2-6-112.
Any person generally competent to be a witness may act as a witness to a will. WY Stat § 2-6-115.
Can a Witness To a Wyoming Will Benefit Under the Will?
No subscribing witness to any Wyoming will can derive any benefit therefrom unless there are two (2) disinterested and competent witnesses to the same, but if without a will the witness would be entitled to any portion of the testator’s estate, the witness may still receive the portion to the extent and value of the amount devised. WY Stat § 2-6-112.
Therefore, if a beneficiary under the will is also one of the subscribing witnesses, the beneficiary will not be permitted to inherit under the will, unless there are additional subscribing witnesses (so that the beneficiary is not a necessary witness to make the will valid). If the interested beneficiary is also an intestate heir, the beneficiary is permitted to receive an amount to the extent of such share.
A Wyoming Will Must Be Signed By the Testator Or At the Testator’s Express Direction
In order to be valid, a Wyoming will must be executed by the testator, or by another person in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s express direction.
If a testator is unable to physically sign the will, the testator can direct another person to sign the testator’s name. The signing of the testator’s name must be in the presence of the testator, and at the testator’s express direction.
The testator must sign the will in front of two competent witnesses.
Does a Wyoming Will Have To Be Notarized To Be Valid?
No, there is no requirement to sign your will in front of a notary to make the will valid under Wyoming law. However, Wyoming law does allow for a will to be made self-proving. Making a will self-proving speeds up the probate process, because the witnesses to the will have already acknowledged the will’s validity under oath.
To make a will self-proving, the will is simultaneously executed and attested in front of a notary, and affidavits of witnesses signed. The form for the affidavits of the witnesses can be found at WY Stat § 2-6-114, and should be substantially followed.
To make sure that you have created a valid will under Wyoming law, work with a Wyoming probate lawyer.