augmented estate

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The augmented estate is the value of a decedent’s estate used when the surviving spouse chooses to take an elective share, rather than what was left by will. The Uniform Probate Code calculates the augmented estate as all real and personal property constituting the decedent’s net probate estate (reduced by funeral and administration expenses, homestead allowance, family allowances, exempt property, and enforceable claims), the decedent’s nonprobate transfers to the surviving spouse and others, as well as the surviving spouse’s property and nonprobate transfers to others. State probate statutes establish the percentage of the augmented estate that the surviving spouse is entitled to.

Using the augmented estate, which is usually greater than the probate estate, to calculate the surviving spouse’s elective share serves two purposes. First, it prevents the decedent from effectively disinheriting the surviving spouse through nonprobate transfers of property to other people. And second, it limits the surviving spouse’s elective share when they have already received a fair share of the decedent’s wealth through inter vivos transfers or at death through nonprobate means. 

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]