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Encyclopedia > Elective share

An elective share is a term used in American law relating to inheritance, which describes a proportion of an estate which the surviving spouse of the deceased may claim in place of what they were left in the decedent's will. It may also be called a widow's share, statutory share or forced share. Law (a loanword from Old Norse lag), in politics and jurisprudence, is a set of rules or norms of conduct which mandate, proscribe or permit specified relationships among people and organizations, provide methods for ensuring the impartial treatment of such people, and provide punishments for those who do not follow... For other uses, see inheritance (disambiguation). ... Estate is a term used in the common law. ... Marriage is a relationship that plays a key role in the definition of many families. ... In the law, a will or testament is a documentary instrument by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over the testators property or family after their death. ...


The elective share is the modern version of the English common law concepts of dower and curtesy, both of which reserved certain portions of a decedent's estate which were reserved for the surviving spouse, in order to prevent them from falling into poverty and becoming a burden on the community. Royal motto: Dieu et mon droit (French: God and my right) Englands location within the UK Official language English de facto Capital London de facto Largest city London Area  - Total Ranked 1st UK 130,395 km² Population  - Total (2001)  - Density Ranked 1st UK 49,138,831 377/km² Religion... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... Poverty is the state of being without, often associated with need, hardship and lack of resources across a wide range of circumstances. ...


Currently, the amount to be reserved for a spouse is determined by the law of the state where the estate is located. In most states, the elective share is between 1/3 and 1/2 of all the property in the estate, although many states require the marriage to have lasted a certain number of years for the elective share to be claimed, or adjust the share based on the length of the marriage, and the presence of minor children. Some states also reduce the elective share if the surviving spouse is independently wealthy. Property law is the law that governs the various forms of ownership in real property (land as distinct from personal or moveable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. ... Marriage is a relationship and bond between two individuals that plays a key role in the definition of many families. ... The term minor (from Latin smaller, lesser) has several meanings: Minor is a legal term for a young person, see Minor (law). ... A male Caucasian toddler child A child (plural: children) is a young human. ...


If the spouse claims the elective share, they get that amount, but nothing else from the estate. Obviously, there would be no point in seeking an elective share if the surviving spouse has already been willed more than they would receive under the statute. Furthermore, some assets held by the estate may be exempt from becoming part of the elective share, so their value is subtracted from the total value of the estate before the elective share is calculated.


Some states also permit children of the deceased to claim an elective share.


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