New extension short course helps start estate planning

Picture of course web pageCreating a valid will in Wyoming, making health care decisions and setting up trusts is explained in a new online course from the University of Wyoming Extension.

According to a new survey, only 42 percent of U.S. adults have estate planning documents, such as a will or living trust. For those with children under age 18, the figure is even lower, with just 36 percent having a plan in place.

The extension publication series “Planning Ahead, Difficult Decisions” (available at provides a start with the estate planning process. The first entry in the series, “Introduction to Estate Planning,” is available as a free interactive short course through extension’s online course catalog. The course takes 30-40 minutes and can be accessed at

Cole Ehmke, one of the series authors, said, “Estate planning can be confusing and time consuming, and people tend to say, ‘If I die…’ but serious injuries – after which you can’t make your own decisions – and unexpected death do happen.”

           Ehmke, an extension personal finance specialist, suggested taking care of affairs now, because delaying may limit options. Planning now can reduce confusion and trouble regarding who gets what property (and when), who will make decisions and what exactly you own.

“Planning can minimize conflict among heirs, protect privacy, minimize taxes and even increase the size of your estate through life insurance,” he said.

Estate planning is not just for those with large estates. Ehmke offered this advice, “Ask yourself, ‘What happens to my assets and my loved ones when I die?’ Everyone who has property has an estate, and if you don’t have preferences, the statutes of the state of Wyoming will tell a court how to proceed, including how to take care of any dependents you have.”

For other free personal financial courses from UW Extension, including “Personal Financial Literacy: Understanding and Avoiding Credit Pitfalls” and “Wyoming Tax Facts,” go to and click the Extension Online Courses button.