Surviving spouse rights under Wyoming law include:
- Intestate Rights
- Homestead Allowance
- Exempt Property
- Family Allowance
- Elective Share
Surviving Spouse Rights in Wyoming When There Is No Valid Will – Intestacy
When someone dies without a valid will, they have died intestate. In an intestate estate, Wyoming law controls the disposition of the decedent’s probate assets. The share of the surviving spouse depends on the other survivors of the decedent. WY Stat 2-4-101.
The surviving spouse is entitled to the entire estate if the decedent had no surviving children or descendants.
1/2 of the Estate:
The surviving spouse has the right to 1/2 of the estate if the decedent has surviving children or descendants.
Surviving Spouse’s Right To an Elective Share – Election Against The Will
Under Wyoming law, a surviving spouse has a right of election to take against the will an elective share of the property subject to disposition under the will, reduced by funeral and administration expenses, homestead allowance, family allowances and exemption, and enforceable claims. WY Stat. § 2-5-101.
Amount of the Elective Share
The elective share that a surviving spouse is entitled to take is either:
• One-half (1/2) if there are no surviving issue of the decedent, or if the surviving spouse is also a parent of any of the surviving issue of the decedent; or
• One-fourth (1/4), if the surviving spouse is not the parent of any surviving issue of the decedent.
For purposes of determining the elective share, decedent’s assets held in a revocable trust or property transferred by will substitutes are not included in the calculation.
Deadline to Exercise Right of Election
A surviving spouse, or a personal representative or guardian of the estate of a deceased or incompetent surviving spouse must exercise his or her right of election to take the elective share within three (3) months after the admission of the will to probate or within thirty (30) days after being advised of the right of election, whichever is later. WY. Stat. § 2-5-105.
Surviving Spouse Allowances and Exemptions
As noted above, a surviving spouse may be entitled to homestead allowance, family allowances and other exemptions under Wyoming law. WY Stat 2-5-103. It is important for a surviving spouse to be mindful of the short deadlines in Wyoming probate.