In Maine, a surviving spouse has many widow’s rights, including:
- Intestate Share
- Elective Share
- Homestead Allowance
- Exempt Property
- Family Allowance
- Omitted Spouse Rights
The Maine Probate Code was extensively revised in 2019, changing the rights of surviving spouses.
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. Maine Probate Code 18-C 2-102.
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.
The spouse also receives the entire estate if all of decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and there is no other descendant of the surviving spouse who survives the decedent.
Surviving Spouse Gets Partial Estate
A surviving spouse in Maine is entitled to the first $300,000 plus 3/4 of any balance of the intestate estate if no descendant of the decedent survives the decedent, but a parent of the decedent survives.
A surviving spouse in Maine is entitled to the first $100,000 plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate if all of the decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has one or more surviving descendants who are not descendants of the decedent.
A surviving spouse is entitled to 1/2 of the intestate estate if there are surviving descendants one or more of whom are not descendants of the surviving spouse.
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 $22,500. Maine Probate Code 18-C 2-402.
- Exempt Property not to exceed $15,000. Maine Probate Code 18-C 2-403.
- A reasonable family allowance out of the estate for maintenance during the period of administration. Maine Probate Code 18-C 2-404.
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 an elective share amount equal to 50% of the value of the marital-property portion of the augmented estate. Maine Probate Code 18-C 2-202.
The augmented estate consists of the sum of the decedent’s net probate estate; decedent’s nonprobate transfers to others (2-205); decedent’s nonprobate transfers to the surviving spouse (2-206); and the surviving spouse’s property and nonprobate transfers to others (2-207).
The value of the marital-property portion of the augmented estate consists of the sum of the augmented estate multiplied by a percentage ranging from 3% to 100%, determined by the length of the marriage, as follows:
Length of Marriage
Less than one year
One year but less than 2 years
Two years but less than 3 years
Three years but less than 4 years
Four years but less than 5 years
Five years but less than 6 years
Six years but less than 7 years
Seven years but less than 8 years
Eight years but less than 9 years
Nine years but less than 10 years
Ten years but less than 11 years
Eleven years but less than 12
Twelve years but less than 13 years
Thirteen years but less than 14 years
Fourteen years but less than 15 years
Fifteen years or more
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 probate of the decedent’s will, whichever is later. If an extension is requested before the deadline has passed, the deadline may be extended. Maine Probate Code 18-C 2-211.