North Carolina law recognizes the unique bond of marriage in many ways. This public policy comes into play in several ways upon the death of one spouse.
First, the Elective Share ensures no one can leave their spouse out of their Last Will and Testament. Second, when one spouse dies, any real estate titled in both of their names will be inherited by the surviving spouse. A third example is the topic of this post: The Spousal Allowance.
Previously, the Spousal Allowance was known as a Widow’s Allowance. The assumption was that women were economically dependent on their husbands. Because times have changed, North Carolina law now ensures that any surviving spouse will have the right to a certain share of his or her late spouse’s personal property to use for living expenses.
Effective January 1, 2019, a surviving spouse is now entitled to up to $60,000.000 of the personal property of the deceased spouse. This law doubled the amount of personal property allowed by the Spousal Allowance.
To clarify, here are a few definitions and tips:
- “Personal Property” means all property except real estate. This may include bank accounts, automobiles, mobile homes, jewelry, clothing, and tools.
- The Spousal Allowance takes precedence over any unsecured creditors’ claims, liens, and judgments, except loans secured by the personal property.
- There is a legal process for a widow or widower to claim a Spousal Allowance.
- A detailed Estate Plan can help make this process and probate easier.
If you have questions about the Spousal Allowance or other issues related to North Carolina Estate Planning or Probate, please feel free to give us a call at 704-817-4710.