A guide to Maine probate laws.
Anyone who is at least 18 years old or legally emancipated, and of “sound mind,” may write a will in Maine.
Every will must be signed by two witnesses of general competence.
Yes, but it’s recommended to choose disinterested witnesses.
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Age of executor: At least 18 years old
Has not been found “unsuitable” by the court
Yes, Maine allows for a holographic will, but it must be in the testator’s handwriting.
No, Maine is not a community property state.
In a community property state, each spouse has an equal share of property acquired during the marriage. Property acquired before the marriage is considered separate property.
In Maine, when there is no will, the court will determine who receives the intestate estate based on the laws of intestate succession. (You can download the Policygenius app to create a will today, so the courts don't decide what happens to your property.)
This is how much a surviving spouse receives in a few different circumstances:
|If the decedent is a survived by spouse and:||Surviving spouse's share|
|No children or parents of the decedent||Everything|
|Children from the surviving spouse only||Everything|
|Children from someone else||1/2 of the intestate estate|
|Parents but no children||The first $300,000, plus 3/4 of any balance of the intestate estate|
|Children from the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has other children||The first $100,000, plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate|
Otherwise, when there is no surviving spouse, then the intestate estate will pass along in the following order:
Children, or their children
Siblings of the decedent, or their children
Grandparents or their descendants (aunts/uncles, cousins)
Great-grandparents or their descendants
Descendants of a deceased spouse
The way this works, is that for someone to receive the estate, there must not be anyone left in the category above them. If an inheritor is dead, then their share typically passes to their children by a per capita designation.
Wills can’t be filed with the court for safekeeping. After the testator’s death, the will should be filed with probate and family court in the county where the decedent died.
Summary administration: In Maine, an estate can be administered without court procedure when the value of the estate does not exceed the homestead allowance, which is an amount that decedent’s surviving spouse is allowed to claim before any assets are distributed. The homestead allowance in Maine is $22,500.
Exempt property: Up to $15,000 in personal property in addition to the homestead allowance; burial and funeral expenses; medical expenses from the decedent’s last illness.
A small estate affidavit may also be used by someone to collect an asset valued under $40,000, at least 30 days after the decedent’s death, and if no one has filed for letters testamentary or petitioned the court.
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Elissa Suh is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has researched and written extensively about finance and insurance since 2019, with an emphasis in esate planning and mortgages. Her writing has been cited by MarketWatch, CNBC, and Betterment.
Elissa has a B.A. in Film Studies from Barnard College.
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