In Maine, a surviving spouse has many widow’s rights, including:
- Intestate Share
- Elective Share
- Homestead Allowance
- Exempt Property
- Family Allowance
- Omitted Spouse Rights
Surviving Spouse Rights In Maine When There Is No Valid Will – Intestacy
When a decedent dies without a valid will, they have died intestate. Maine law provides for a surviving spouse when the decedent did not leave a valid will. When someone dies intestate, Maine law decides the distribution of the estate. The share of a surviving spouse in Maine depends on the surviving heirs of the decedent. Maryland Estates and Trusts Code section 3-102.
Entire Estate to Surviving Spouse
If the decedent was not survived by any issue or parents, then the surviving spouse has the right to the entire intestate estate.
Surviving Spouse Gets Partial Estate
If the decedent has a surviving minor child, then the surviving spouse is entitled to 1/2 of the intestate estate. If the decedent has surviving issue but none are minors, or no surviving issue but has surviving parents, then the surviving spouse is entitled to $40,000 plus 1/2 of the remaining estate.
Surviving Spouse Rights To Allowances and Exemptions
A surviving spouse whose deceased spouse died domicile in Maine may be entitled to the following allowances and exempt property:
- Homestead allowance of $10,000.
- Exempt Property not to exceed $7,000.
- A reasonable family allowance of up to $10,000 for personal use. Maryland Estates and Trusts Code section 3-201.
Surviving Spouse Elective Share Rights – Election Against Will
Under Maine law, a surviving spouse has a right of election to take an elective share of his or her deceased spouse’s estate. This is true, even if the surviving spouse was intentionally disinherited from the estate plan. The surviving spouse may elect to take one-third (1/3) of “augmented estate.”
The augmented estate consists of the sum of the gross estate less the expense of funeral and estate administration, homestead allowance, exemptions, family allowance, and enforceable claims. The augmented estate excludes pensions or life insurance payable to someone other than the surviving spouse. This amount does include, however, the value of any property the surviving spouse would have received from a right of survivorship with the deceased spouse. When calculating the augmented estate Maine law provides that the estate includes the value of the property transferred for less than market value also referred to as adequate consideration. For example, if deceased spouse transferred real estate to another person, not his or her spouse, prior to death for less than market value, this real property will be included in the augmented estate for purposes of the elective share calculation for the surviving spouse’s spousal share.
Deadline for Election
The surviving spouse must make the elective share election within nine (9) months or decedent’s death, or six months after the first appointment of the personal representative. If an extension is requested before the deadline has passed, the deadline may be extended.
Surviving Spouse Omitted From Will Made Prior To Marriage – Omitted Spouse
In situations where the surviving spouse was disinherited in the will made prior to the marriage, the omitted surviving spouse shall receive the same share as the intestate share, unless it appears that the omission was intentional or the testator provided for the spouse by transfer outside the will and the intent that the transfer be in lieu of a testamentary provision is shown by statements of the testator or from the amount of the transfer or other evidence.