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Elective Share Explained

Elective Share (Inheritance) Explained

An elective share is a legal term which is used in American law and is associated with inheritance. An elective share in the United States enables a spouse of the deceased person to claim inheritance rights. The surviving spouse is entitled a fixed percentage of wealth left by a deceased spouse. Traditionally, surviving spouse is entitled to receive one-third of the total wealth regardless of marriage length.

A Little More on Elective Share

The concept of elective share is the modern form of dowry, which is the reserved fraction of a deceased’s estate. It allows a surviving spouse to benefit in the event she is disinherited by the decedent. The concept of elective share also enables a surviving spouse to become financially independent.

The amount of an estate that is reserved to the spouse is controlled by state law where the estate is located. In most states. the elective share is reserved between 1/3 and ½ of the entire estate. Many states calculate or adjust the elective share based upon the length of marriage and the presence of minor children to claim elective share.

Elective share laws vary considerably between the states. For example, some physical or financial assets may be exempted from the estate when calculating elective shares. In some states children may also claim an elective share. Below is an example of a state elective share statute:

The state law defines elective share as following;

a) Elective share is the value of estate of deceased subtracts the value of estate owned separately by the surviving spouse.
b) It is fixed one-third portion of the estate.

The spouse’s estate may include;

a) The property or estate owned by surviving spouse after the death of decedent.
b) All the legal possession and equitable interest and assets which are owned by surviving person only.

References for Elective Share


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