Does a Maine Will need to be probated?
If the entire estate is worth more than $20,000 then you need at least an informal probate order to prove that the Will is valid. §3-102. This is made easier with self-prove affidavits signed by the witnesses.
What if the estate is less than $20,000?
Estates worth $20,000 or less can be distributed using the collection of personal property by affidavit procedure. Successors (person’s entitled to the decedent’s property under the Maine Will or intestate heirs) can use the affidavit to collect the deceased’s property after 30 days following the deceased’s death. §3-1201
Small estates are defined as those being less than: the homestead allowance, exempt property, family allowance, administration costs and expenses, reasonable funeral expenses and reasonable medical and hospital expenses of the deceased’s last illness (less any liens and encumbrances). The personal representative may distribute the small estate without giving notice to creditors and file a closing statement of the estate. §3-1203
Informal Probate of a Maine Last Will and Testament
If there is an original Maine Will in existence and no one has objected, an interested person may file an application for informal probate of the Will. The application must be filed within 3 years of the decedent’s death, however some exceptions apply. If the application is in order and the Will is in compliance with execution requirements, then the register can issue a written statement of informal probate. §3-302
Who is an interested person?
An interested person includes heirs, devisees, children, spouses, domestic partners, creditors, beneficiaries and any others having a property right or claim against the estate. §1-201
Formal Testacy Proceedings
If there is a question over whether the decedent left a valid Last Will, then this must be decided in Formal Testacy Proceedings. This includes cases where the Maine Will has been lost, destroyed or is otherwise unavailable.
An interested person may commence litigation by filing a petition with the probate court. A hearing date will be fixed and notice must be given to various persons including the spouse, children, heirs, devisees, executors named in the last Will and Testament and any personal representative who has been appointed. §3-403
Maine Estate Taxes
For all decedents with property taxable to Maine, the state imposes a tax on estates valued more than $1,000,000 (gross estate plus prior taxable gifts). The Maine estate tax is applied even if there is no federal estate tax.
When someone owning Maine real or tangible personal property dies, an automatic lien is placed on that property.
For estates with a value equal to or below the taxable threshold and that have real or tangible personal property in Maine, a release of that lien may be obtained for that property by filing Form 706EZ-ME with Maine Revenue Services. Estates above the threshold will need to file a Maine Estate Tax Return (Form 706ME).
Federal Estate Taxes will resume in 2011.