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What is a Spousal Allowance?

A Spousal Allowance, technically known as an “Application and Assignment Year’s Allowance,” refers to the right that a person has to claim the personal property of his or her spouse after that spouse passes away.

This tool allows the surviving spouse to access certain funds with priority over creditors and ahead of the longer timelines that come with the completion of a full estate administration.

The surviving spouse, with a few exceptions, may claim up to $60,000.00 of the decedent spouse’s personal property. In addition, the surviving spouse may be entitled to claim an additional $5,000.00 for each surviving child of the decedent.

When are children entitled to an allowance?

There are restrictions on who may qualify for these $5,000.00 allowances for children. Common considerations are that the child must be under the age of 18 unless they are a full-time student, mentally incompetent, or totally disabled. These three conditions raise the age from 18 to 22 for a full time-student and from 18 to 21 for someone that is mentally incompetent or totally disabled.

The word child here refers to someone that is the biological child or adopted child of the decedent spouse. Funds may also be claimed if the surviving spouse is pregnant at the time of her husband’s death.

What property qualifies for the Spousal Allowance?

Only personal property can be claimed on the Spousal Allowance.

There are two ways to classify property: real and personal. Real property can be thought of as assets which are fixed in one place. Common examples of real property are land, homes, mineral rights, and other structures which cannot be moved. Real property cannot be claimed on a Spousal Allowance.

The second category is personal property. Personal property is everything that is not real property. Think of these as assets that can be moved or that can be stored in a financial institution. Everything from bank accounts, stocks, and retirement accounts to vehicles and coin collections would be considered personal property. This is the category of assets that can be claimed through the use of a Spousal Allowance.

What else do I need to know?

The most important thing to emphasize is that currently you must claim the spousal allowance within one year of your spouse’s death. However, there is a proposed law that will extend this timeline.

The current fee required by the court to file the spousal allowance is $20.00. Additionally, it is a $3.00 fee for each asset that is listed on the form.

When filing a spousal allowance, you will need to submit an original death certificate for the decedent spouse. Other documentation you can expect to submit with the “Application and Assignment Year’s Allowance” are original documentation for the assets you are listing on the form. Examples here are the original title to a vehicle or bank statements for any accounts in the name of the decedent spouse.

If the property you are trying to claim is located in a different county from the one where the decedent spouse lived at the time of their death, you may submit a separate request for an allowance in that county.

How We Can Help

  • Identifying and valuing what assets may qualify for the Spousal Allowance
  • Preparation and filing of all necessary paperwork
  • Guiding you through the process of filing and transferring assets into your name
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Stott, Hollowell, Windham & Stancil, PLLC

Stott, Hollowell, Windham & Stancil, PLLC offers legal knowledge and experience spanning over 40 years to provide quality legal services to the greater Gaston and Charlotte regions.

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