Under the Probate Code, the spouse or unmarried minor children are allowed as their absolute property free from all debts of the deceased:
- All household furnishings and electrical appliances, regardless of value.
- One automobile or other passenger motor vehicle with its means of propulsion.
- An allowance for maintenance and support for one year, the amount to be determined by the Probate Court. The survivor who is also a public assistance claimant will not be required to request this allowance when the only property in the estate is the household furnishings and/or the home in which the claimant lives (with home defined as in Regulation 40-2.030). The survivor will be required to apply for this allowance when there is personal property other than household furnishings in the estate, or there is real property in which the person has not lived in the estate. Application for the allowance will also be required if the home in which the survivor lives is being sold by court order to satisfy other creditors.
- In addition to the above, a homestead allowance of one-half of the estate up to $7500.00 in value.
The first three of these allowances are absolute allowance and are not included in the distributive share of spouse or child.
EXAMPLE: In an estate of $10,000.00 remaining over and above exempt property and support allowance, the widow can select as homestead any property not exceeding $5,000.00 in value, but would receive nothing further in the final distribution.
After these allowances are made to the surviving spouse or minor children, the remainder of the estate descends as provided in the statutes as follows:
- The surviving spouse shall receive:
- The entire estate if there are not surviving children.
- The first $20,000.00 of the estate plus one-half of the balance of the estate if there are no surviving children but one or more surviving parents.
- The first $20,000.00 of the estate plus one-half of the balance of the estate if there are surviving children, all of whom are also children of the
- One-half of the estate if there are surviving children, one or more of whom are not children of the surviving spouse.
- The part of the estate which is not distributable to the surviving spouse, or the entire estate if there is no surviving spouse, will be distributed as follows:
- To the children, or their descendants, in equal parts.
- If no children or their descendants, to the father, mother, brothers, sisters and their descendants in equal parts.
- If none of the above, to grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, and their descendants to the ninth degree, in equal parts.
- If there are no persons as described in 1. Or 2. Above, the entire estate is distributed to relatives of the deceased spouse of the deceased.
- If there are no persons as described in 1., 2., or 3. above, all of the estate is to revert to the state.