Providing For The Family After A Death
When someone dies in Michigan and leaves a surviving spouse and/or minor children, the family has certain allowances (payments) before any other beneficiaries receive a distribution. Also known as a widow’s or widower’s allowance, these payments are intended to make sure that family members are not left destitute after a death.
At Bieber & Czechowski, we have decades of experience helping families after the death of a loved one. We pride ourselves on being there for our clients when they have questions or need guidance. If you have lost a loved one, we can help you understand what steps you need to take to properly administer the estate, including payments for surviving spouses or other family members.
Current Allowances For A Surviving Spouse
Michigan law established amounts for the allowance in 2001, requiring it to adjust for inflation each year. As of 2018, the allowances include:
- Homestead allowance $23,000
- Exempt personal property worth $15,000
- Family allowance $27,000 (maximum lump sum without court order)
If there is no surviving spouse, then the personal representative divides these amounts among any minor children of the decedent or other children the decedent was supporting. The above payments have priority over any creditors, will beneficiaries or heirs (if there is no will). That means that the estate must make these payments first, before paying anyone else.
Spousal Elections Are Separate From Allowances
If a decedent dies with a will, the surviving spouse may also make a special election under Michigan law. The spouse may elect to follow the will or take up to half the amount of the estate the spouse would have received had the decedent died intestate (without a will). The personal representative must notify a surviving spouse of these rights within 28 days of appointment.