Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary

Elective Share

The portion of a deceased person's estate that the surviving spouse is entitled to claim under state law. In many states, the elective share (also called the statutory share) is about one-third of the deceased spouse's property. In some states, however, the amount the surviving spouse can claim depends on whether or not the couple has young children and, in a few states, on how long the couple was married. In most states, if the deceased spouse left a will, the surviving spouse must choose either what the will provides or the elective share. (See also: dower, curtesy)
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