spousal share

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Spousal share (also called forced, elective, or statutory share) refers to the amount state laws entitle a spouse to after their spouse passes regardless of what is in a will. Spousal shares prevent spouses from changing the amount through a will as with intestacy laws. Instead, a person can either take what is in the spouse’s will or what the state spousal share laws would give. States differ on how much spousal statutory shares should be. The traditional share was one-third, but some states have specific dollar amounts, different percentages, or base the amount on length of marriage and amount of kids the couple had together.

Compare with statutory share which may also apply to children. 

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