If a person dies without a will or without a proper will, the assets held at death will be distributed according to Wyoming’s intestate succession laws. The following provides a guideline of how intestacy laws work in Wyoming.

If the individual leaves a spouse and children, or descendants of any children, one-half of the estate will be distributed to the surviving spouse, and the remainder will descend to the surviving children and descendants.[1] However, if there are no surviving children or grandchildren, then the surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate.[2]

If neither of the above situations are applicable, then the estate will be distributed according to the following rules. The decedent’s estate will be distributed to any surviving children, or the descendants or the children who have died, who would take the share that their parents would have received.[3] Second, if there are no children or descendants of children, the estate will be distributed to the parents, siblings, and the descendants of any siblings who have died.[4] Third, if there are no children or descendants of children and no father, mother, brothers, sisters or descendants of deceased brothers and sisters, then the decedent’s grandfather, grandmother, uncles, aunts, and their descendants take collectively the share of their immediate ancestors in equal parts.[5]

There are a few other important rules that may affect the descent and distribution of any rights. First, any persons conceived before the decedent’s death but born after the decedent has passed away, will inherit as if they had been born in the lifetime of the decedent.[6] Second, persons of the half-blood inherit the same share they would if they were a whole-blood relative, but stepchildren and foster children and their descendants do not inherit.[7] In regards to real estate, if a legal heir is an alien, their right will not necessarily be invalidated, unless that nonresident alien is a citizen of a country in which the laws do not allow citizens of the United States to take real property by succession or by testamentary disposition.[8] In these situations, the burden of proof is on the nonresident alien to establish the existence of reciprocal rights by his country.[9] Divorce of spouses will not affect the rights of children to inherit.[10] Lastly, common law dower and tenancy by the courtesy have been abolished in Wyoming.[11]

[1] W.S. § 2-4-101(a)(i).

[2] W.S. § 2-4-101(a)(ii).

[3] W.S. § 2-4-101(c)(i).

[4] W.S. § 2-4-101(c)(ii).

[5] W.S. § 2-4-101(c)(iii).

[6] W.S. § 2-4-103.

[7] W.S. § 2-4-104.

[8] W.S. § 2-4-105(a).

[9] W.S. § 2-4-105(c).

[10] W.S. § 2-4-106.

[11] W.S. § 2-4-101(b).