elective share

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The elective share is also known as a spousal share, statutory share, election against the will, or forced share. In the United States, statutory elective share law exists to prevent the disinheritance of a spouse. Elective share statutes give to a surviving spouse a fixed fraction, typically out of a probate estate of the deceased spouse. Traditionally that fraction is one-third of the estate regardless of the length of the marriage. The Uniform Probate Code provides a more complicated scheme for determining the elective share. Elective share statutes are enacted in “separate property states.” These are often contrasted with “community property states.”

[Last updated in October of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]