Widows’ Allowances and Marital Deductions-The Date-of-Death Rule

In every state there are statutes that provide for widows’ allowances in an attempt to assure adequate support for widows during the time it takes to settle their husbands’ estates. A common feature in most of these state support statutes is that the local probate judge is permitted to order an amount which the court finds to be reasonably necessary for the maintenance of the widow during the period of settlement to be set aside for her from the rest of the estate. The maximum amount permitted, the method of payment, the duration of the allowance, the extent to which the probate court may later modify the award, and the factors to be considered in the initial determination of the award differ greatly from state to state. In addition, only a few statutes and a limited number of cases have dealt with the question of when, if ever, the widow may be considered as having a vested and indefeasible interest in the support allowance.