What Types of Deeds Are Recognized in Wyoming?
Wyoming property owners transfer real estate interests by creating and recording a signed, notarized deed.1 Wyoming law recognizes three principal types of deeds—each with a statutory deed form—that an owner can use to make a current transfer of real estate.2 Each deed option comes with a different warranty of title—the current owner’s guaranty regarding the status and validity of the ownership interest.
Wyoming Quitclaim Deed
A Wyoming quitclaim deed transfers the entire ownership interest the signer holds when signing the deed but provides no warranty or covenants of title.3 The current owner makes no promises about conflicting claims or whether the owner actually owns the property outright. The new owner assumes all risk of problems with the property’s title—called title defects—such as outstanding liens or mortgages, boundary disputes, or chain-of-title issues arising from errors in earlier deeds or estate proceedings.
Property owners often use quitclaim deeds to transfer real estate for no payment, or consideration. A quitclaim deed might, for example:
- Transfer real estate as a gift;
- Add a spouse’s name to the deed; or
- Retitle property to a trust.
Wyoming Warranty Deed
A Wyoming warranty deed transfers real estate with complete warranty of title.4 A property owner who signs a Wyoming warranty deed makes four implied promises—or covenants:
- Covenants of seisin and power to convey. The owner held good title to the property and had the right to transfer the property when signing the deed.
- Covenant against encumbrance. The property is free from all encumbrances—such as liens, mortgages, or other third-party claims against the title.
- Covenant of quiet enjoyment. The new owner and future transferees will enjoy undisturbed possession of the property.
- Covenant of warranty. The owner will defend the property’s title against all persons who make legal claims against it.5
A property owner who transfers real estate via warranty deed bears the risk of problems with the property’s title. The new owner can sue the prior owner for breach of warranty to recover financial losses caused by title problems that arose anytime during the property’s chain of title, up to the date of the deed. Patel v. Khan, 970 P.2d 836 (Wyo. 1998).
Wyoming Special Warranty Deed
A Wyoming special warranty deed is a kind of middle ground between a warranty deed and a quitclaim deed. It splits the risk of title issues between the current owner and new owner. The current owner guarantees a good, clear title, but the guarantee extends only to the period while the owner held title. 6 The new owner is responsible for any title problems that arose before the current owner took title.
An owner who signs a Wyoming special warranty deed makes two implied covenants:
- The property is free from liens, mortgages, and other encumbrances caused by the current owner.
- The current owner will defend the property’s title against any lawful claims made by the current owner—or any person whose claim arises through or under the current owner—but against no other claims or persons.7
What Types of Estate Planning Deeds Are Used in Wyoming?
Wyoming law recognizes two types of deeds that let property owners retain possession of real estate for life and transfer property to a named beneficiary with no probate when the owner dies.
Wyoming Transfer on Death Deeds
A Wyoming transfer-on-death deed (or TOD deed) names a beneficiary to automatically take title to the property when the owner dies.8 A TOD deed is recorded during life but has no impact on the owner’s rights in the property until death.9 The property owner can revoke a TOD deed at any time and retains the right to sell, transfer, or mortgage the property—with or without the beneficiary’s consent—until the owner’s death.
Wyoming Life Estate Deed
A Wyoming life estate deed creates two ownership interests in real estate. The life estate gives the life estate holder—called the life tenant—ownership of the property until the life tenant’s death. The other interest—called the remainder—gives a successor the right to the property after the life tenant’s death. Life estate deeds used in estate planning typically reserve the life estate to the current owner and grant the remainder interest to the owner’s child or other heir. The owner retains possession for life, and at death the remainder interest holder takes title outside probate.
Life estate deeds differ from TOD deeds in that life estate deeds are operative once signed and recorded. The life tenant possesses the property but cannot revoke the deed or transfer complete ownership of the property without the remainder interest holder’s consent.10
What Are the Ways in Which Multiple Owners Can Jointly Own Wyoming Real Estate?
Wyoming law gives co-owners three choices for jointly holding title to real estate. The best form of co-ownership depends on the co-owners’ circumstances, goals, and relationship.
Tenancy in Common
Wyoming’s default co-ownership form is called tenancy in common. A deed transferring Wyoming real estate to two or more persons without specifying a co-ownership form creates a tenancy in common. 11 The co-owners—called tenants in common or co-tenants—each own a separate partial interest in the property that they can transfer separately during life or by will.
Tenancy in common interests are usually described as a fraction or percentage of the property. Three tenants in common might, for example, each hold a one-third interest.
A Wyoming joint tenancy is characterized by the right of survivorship. The co-owners—called joint tenants—have a right to receive a deceased co-owner’s share without going through probate. A joint tenant cannot transfer his or her ownership interest by will because a joint tenancy interest automatically vests in the surviving owner upon a joint tenant’s death.
Joint tenants mutually share complete ownership of real estate. A deed to two or more new owners only creates a joint tenancy if the deed expressly states that the new owners take title as joint tenants. A property owner can record a deed retitling Wyoming real estate in the name of the owner and another person to create a joint tenancy.12
Tenancy by the Entirety
Wyoming law recognizes a third co-ownership option—called tenancy by the entirety—with most of the same features as joint tenancy, including a right of survivorship. The chief difference is that the co-owners—or tenants by the entirety—must be married spouses. Tenancy by the entirety also provides greater protection against creditor claims.
A deed cannot transfer Wyoming real estate to two persons as tenants by the entirety unless they are married to one another and the deed specifically says they are tenants by the entirety.13
Real Estate Ownership through Trusts
Two or more persons can use a joint trust to hold title to real estate in place of a co-ownership form. To do so, they must create a trust and record a deed transferring the real estate to the trust.14 The trust document that creates the trust names the would-be co-owners as beneficiaries, and one or more beneficiaries may also serve as co-trustees.
Co-owners who transfer Wyoming real estate to a revocable living trust can maintain possession and effective control of the property for life and arrange for eventual transfer to a successor beneficiary outside probate.
What Are the Rules for Spousal Ownership of Wyoming Real Estate?
Wyoming’s property laws provide special rules and protections affecting real estate ownership by married persons. Married property owners should be sure to observe the additional requirements and consider spousal property rights when transferring real estate or planning an estate.
Tenancy by the Entirety Trust
Wyoming law allows spouses who co-own real estate as tenants by the entirety to transfer the property to a trust and retain tenancy by the entirety’s asset-protection features.15 The deed transferring the property to the trust must state that Wyo. Code § 4-10-402(c) applies to the property and any proceeds resulting from sale or disposition of the property. The enhanced protection continues as long as:
- The spouses are both still living;
- The spouses remain married; and
- The property is still held in the trust.
Wyoming Homestead Rights
Wyoming law defines a homestead as a structure occupied as the owner’s primary residence and the land on which it sits.16 Homesteads are partially protected against creditor claims in Wyoming and subject to the following additional requirements for transfers:
- Spouses signatures. A deed transferring a married person’s Wyoming homestead must be signed by both spouses—even if only one spouse holds title to the property.17
- Homestead release. A deed that transfers a homestead must include words substantially similar to “Hereby releasing and waiving all rights under and by virtue of the homestead exemption laws of this state.”18
Neither of the above requirements apply if the deed transfers the homestead from one spouse to the other.
Spousal Intestate Share
Wyoming law gives surviving spouses significant inheritance rights in a deceased spouse’s real estate and personal property. The surviving spouse of a deceased spouse who dies intestate—i.e., without a will—receives the entire estate if the deceased spouse has no surviving children. The surviving spouse receives 50 percent of the estate if the deceased spouse leaves surviving children.19
Spousal Elective Share
Wyoming law generally allows property owners to distribute their assets by will however they like.20 However, a surviving spouse is entitled to an elective share if the deceased spouse disinherits the surviving spouse by will or provides for a lesser share.21 A surviving spouse’s elective share in Wyoming is either:
- One-half of the estate if the deceased spouse has no surviving children or grandchildren (called issue), or if the surviving spouse is also the parent of any of the deceased spouse’s surviving children or grandchildren; or
- One-fourth of the estate if the deceased spouse leaves surviving children or grandchildren who are not descended from the surviving spouse.22
Where Are Deeds Filed in Wyoming?
Each of Wyoming’s counties has an elected county clerk whose duties include recording and maintaining the county’s land records.23 A deed that transfers Wyoming real estate must be recorded with the county clerk of the county where the property is located.24
After accepting a deed, the county clerk records the deed and endorses the time and date of recording on the deed.25 Recorded deeds provide formal notice of the transfer to third parties, such as later purchasers.26 An unrecorded deed is not effective against a later purchaser who records a valid deed after acquiring the property in good faith for valuable consideration.27
Does Wyoming Allow Electronic Recording?
The Wyoming Legislature has adopted the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act allowing electronic signing and recording of deeds.28 An electronic deed that meets all requirements and has a valid electronic signature counts as an original, signed document that can be recorded.29
Not all Wyoming counties offer e-recording. Counties that have adopted e-recording offer the service through third-party vendors—which may charge additional fees. A clerk that accepts electronically filed deeds must continue accepting deeds in paper format.30
What Is the Cost to File a Wyoming Deed?
County clerks charge a recording fee of $12.00 for a deed’s first page and $3.00 per page for additional pages.31
A deed with the names of more than five grantors or grantees to be indexed incurs an additional $1.00 fee for each name over five.32 A deed with more than two property descriptions given only by book and page number incurs an additional $2.00 fee for each description over two.33 An additional $1.00 fee is due for each section description over ten.34
Does Wyoming Charge a Transfer Tax for Real Estate Transfers?
Does Wyoming Require Any Additional Forms When Recording a Deed?
Wyoming requires the new owner taking title through a deed to submit a signed Statement of Consideration when filing the deed for recording. Wyoming’s Board of Equalization publishes a statement of consideration form—which discloses:
- The current owner’s name and address;
- The new owner’s name and address;
- The date of sale;
- The date of transfer;
- A description of the property;
- The full amount paid or to be paid for the property;
- The terms of sale; and
- The value of any property included in the sale that is not real estate.35
Which Deeds are Exempt from Wyoming’s Statement of Consideration?
Wyoming law generally requires a statement of consideration with all recorded deeds. Certain types of deeds do not have to give the details of the sale—the purchase price paid, terms of sale, and estimated value of non-real estate included in the transfer.36
Attorney Practice Note: The Wyoming Board of Equalization’s instruction sheet indicates that the completed statement of consideration need not be filed when a deed is exempt from giving the details of the sale. However, the county assessor may contact the new owner to confirm that an exemption applies if no form is submitted. Submitting the completed form with the sale details omitted avoids the need for contact by the county assessor.
Deeds exempt from disclosure of the sale details include:
- Deeds confirming, correcting, modifying, or supplementing a prior deed with no additional consideration;
- Deeds relating to the merger, consolidation, or reorganization of a business entity;
- Deeds transferring real estate from a subsidiary corporation to its parent corporation for no consideration or in sole consideration of cancellation or surrender of the subsidiary’s stock;
- Deeds that constitute a gift of more than one-half of the property’s actual value;
- Deeds between spouses or parent and child for nominal consideration;
- Deeds that effectively transfer the property to the current owner;
- Deeds arising from a tax sale or foreclosure;
- Any other deeds specifically exempted by the Wyoming Board of Equalization and Department of Revenue.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-106.
- Wyo. Stat. §§ 34-2-102, 34-2-104, 34-2-136.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-2-104.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-2-102.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-2-103.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-2-136.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-2-137.
- Wyo. Stat. § 2-18-104.
- Wyo. Stat. § 2-18-103.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-111.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-140.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-140.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-140.
- See Wyo. Stat. §§ 4-10-401; 4-10-402.
- Wyo. Code § 410-402(c).
- Wyo. Stat. § 1-20-104.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-2-121.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-2-121.
- Wyo. Stat. § 2-4-101(a).
- Wyo. Stat. § 2-6-101.
- Wyo. Stat. § 2-5-101(a).
- Wyo. Stat. §§ 2-5-101(a)(i)-(a)(ii).
- Wyo. Stat. §§ 18-3-401; 18-3-402.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-118.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-119(a).
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-121.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-120.
- Wyo. Stat. §§ 34-1-401 – 34-1-407.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-403.
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-404(c).
- Wyo. Stat. § 18-3-402(a)(xvi).
- Wyo. Stat. § 18-3-402(a)(xvi)(M).
- Wyo. Stat. § 18-3-402(a)(xvi)(R).
- Wyo. Stat. § 18-3-402(a)(xvi)(N).
- Wyo. Stat. § 34-1-142(a).
- Wyo. Stat. §§ 34-1-142(c)(i)-(c)(viii).