Widow's Election

Definition - What does Widow's Election mean?

A widow's election is a surviving spouse's prerogative to use the terms of the will of the deceased spouse or the laws of succession as dictated by the state courts in determining which portion of the deceased spouse's estate they take. For instance, most states allow for the surviving spouse to inherit one half of the deceased spouse's estate with the other half equally split between the children. The decedent may have tried to leave the other spouse much less or even more in their will than what the law would suggest. It is the same as a first right to refusal in that the surviving children do not have the option to have a say.

Justipedia explains Widow's Election

A widow's election is meant to protect the widow to the limit of the law. It is most often seen that the will may leave less than half to a widow instead of over half, in which case the widow would normally elect to take half anyway.

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