Small Estates and Summary Distribution in Wyoming

Legal Disclaimer: The following is basic legal information, provided as a public service by Wyoming’s lawyers. The information provided is not a substitute for speaking to an attorneyOnly an attorney can give you legal advice regarding your specific situation. Click here for help finding a lawyer.


  • Real property = land and things attached to land (i.e. homes, garages, buildings, etc.)
  • Personal property = any property that is NOT real property (i.e. clothing, jewelry, furniture, stocks, bank accounts, etc.)
  • Distributee = [W.S. § 2-1-301(a)(xiii)] a person entitled to any property of the decedent under his will or under the statutes of intestate succession (the laws that say who receives decedents’ property when they die without a will) (intestate succession information);
    • this is anyone who is legally entitled to inherit the decedent’s property - examples:
      • spouse
      • children – biological and/or adopted
      • parent/s
      • sibling/s
  • Decedent = person who died

What is a Small Estate?

A small estate is one where a decedent’s personal AND real property, minus liens and encumbrances, is less than $200,000. This includes mineral rights.

What is summary distribution?

Summary probate is a way to distribute a decedent’s real and personal property from a small estate without having to go through the full probate process in court to administer the decedent’s estate.

Summary distribution can be used whether or not the decedent had a will.

What are the requirements for summary distribution?

The decedent’s estate must be a small estate (real and personal property value cannot exceed $200,000 – see above);

You cannot file for summary distribution until 30 days after the decedent’s death;

The person/people filing must be a distributee/distributees of the decedent

How do I get a summary distribution?

You must file an application for a decree of summary distribution of property with the district court and pay the filing fee.

What is in the application for a decree of summary distribution of property?

It is a sworn statement (affidavit), signed by the distributee/distributees that includes the following information [W.S. §§2-1-205(b) & (c), 2-1-201(a)(i) – (v)] :

  • The value of the real and personal property of the decedent’s estate, minus liens and encumbrances, does not exceed $200,000;
  • At least thirty (30) days have passed since the decedent’s death;
  • The nature of the relationship between the distributee/distributees and the decedent and the legal reason why they are entitled to the property.
    • If the decedent left a will, the application MUST follow the requirements of the distribution of the property as stated in the will.
    • If there is no will, the person/people who are listed as distributee/distributees of property in the application MUST BE LEGALLY ENTITLED to the property. This generally means that you must be the spouse, child (biological or adopted), parent, or sibling of the decedent.
    • It is VERY IMPORTANT that the person/s filing the application understand the legal distribution rules. You may be liable if a person who is NOT legally entitled to be a distributee is given property.
    • **You should consult an attorney if you do not understand this.**
  • What property each distributee is entitled to;
  • A statement of whether any other distributee is entitled to any of the property;
  • There is not a pending application for a personal representative in the state of Wyoming;
  • If any application for appointment of a personal representative outside the state of Wyoming has been made. If so, include the name of the person who has been appointed and the name of the court and jurisdiction that it was made.
  • If there is real property, include an attached sworn report stating the value of the real property located in Wyoming on the date of the decedent’s death. This can be based on a broker’s price opinion but must be made by someone who is NOT legally entitled to the property.

What must I do after I file the application for a decree of summary distribution of property with the court?

The distributee/distributees must publish the application once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks in the newspaper of the county where the application was filed. The newspaper must then sign an affidavit (sworn statement) that it published the notice, which the distributee must file with the court.

The distributee/distributees must mail a copy of the application to the surviving spouse, any others who may legally inherit the property, and any known creditors within ten (10) days of the first publication;

If the decedent received any medical assistance (Medicaid), you may be required to send a copy of the application to the state department of health – you should consult with an attorney if you are unsure.

What happens after the application is published for two weeks?

If there is no objection from anyone about the distribution of the property in the application, the court will issue a certified copy of a decree (decree of summary distribution of property) establishing the right and title to the property as it is listed in the application.

If another person or entity holds the property, a copy of the decree and the death certificate will allow the property to be released to the distributee listed in the decree.

  • For example, if the decedent had a bank account, once the bank receives a copy of the decree and death certificate, the bank will release the funds to the person listed as the distributee of that account in the decree.