In a continuation of an article published in our October 13, 2015 Newsletter, I spoke about three types of affidavits a surviving spouse may execute regarding the transfer of decedent’s assets without probate. In this blog, I’ll cover statutory allowances and exemption for the surviving spouse and minor children, if any; and in a November blog, I’ll discuss the priority of such allowances and exemption over certain creditor claims.
Statutory Allowances and Exemption
The statutory allowances and exemption provide for a minimum value of the decedent’s assets that are protected and reserved for the surviving spouse or minor children of a decedent. If the surviving spouse and minor children receive more than the statutory allowance or exemption amounts through probate or through other non-probate transfers, such as an IRA, pension or other retirement accounts, the statutory exemption and allowances may not be claimed. The statutory allowances and exemption in Arizona are the homestead allowance, the family allowance, and the exempt property allowance.
- Homestead Allowance: The homestead allowance protects and passes the decedent’s homestead to the surviving spouse or minor or dependent children. The amount of the homestead allowance is $18,000. The allowance goes first to the surviving spouse and then, if there is no surviving spouse, to any minor or dependent children equally. If the decedent did not own any real property at the time of death, the allowance may be paid out of cash or other items in the estate as determined either by the interested parties or by the personal representative.
- Family Allowance: The family allowances provides support during the administration of the estate for the surviving spouse and minor children. The amount of the family allowance is limited to $12,000, paid either in a lump sum or by monthly installments over a 12-month period. The family allowance terminates on the earlier of when the estate is fully administered, the expiration of the 12-month period has expired, or when a person entitled to a family allowance dies.
- Exempt Property: The exempt property of the decedent is protected and reserved for the surviving spouse and children. The amount of the exempt property allowance is $7,000.00. The exempt property statute entitles the spouse and/or children an interest of up to $7,000 in the decedent’s personal property, including, household furniture, vehicles, furnishings, appliances and personal effects. If there is less than $7,000 in such personal property, the exempt property status extends to any other asset of the estate to the amount necessary to make up the $7,000.00.
Laura Morrison Trujillo