Elective Share

As we discussed in 5 Reasons You Need a Will, a valid will controls where your money goes when you die–except when it doesn’t. In some states for instance, the maker of a will–the testator–can’t disinherit a spouse.  In Wyoming for example, a disinherited spouse can “elect” to take 1/4 to 1/2 of the property disposed of by the will (reduced by certain items), depending on whether there are children and whether the disinherited spouse is a “parent of any surviving issue of the decedent.” In other words, the will won’t control where all the money goes in this circumstance.

Once again, whether the disinherited spouse has an elective share and how much that share is, depends on where the decedent is domiciled. If the decedent is domiciled in Utah, the surviving spouse’s elective share is 1/3 of the augmented estate–essentially the property disposed of by the will, reduced by funeral and administrative expenses, certain exemptions, and the like.


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