Can widow get a part of her husband’s estate if she was not inhis Will?

My father passed in the middle of his lawsuit from an auto accident that he, my daughter and myself were in. He was also married at the time he passed but he had a Will the only states myself and my brother as co-excutors; she is nowhere mentioned in it. Is she entitled to any part and, if so, what are exceptions?

Asked on November 29, 2011 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In order to prevent a spouse from being entirely disinherited there is something in the law known as an "elective share". The right to an elective shareis the right to take 1/3 of the deceased spouse's estate regardless of what the deceased spouse's Will provides. And his share of an insurance setltement award would be paid into his estate.

That having been said, even though the right to an elective share is automatically provided, such a share will not be paid unless the surviving spouse takes specific action to claim it. And it must be claimed within a certain period of time (e.g. in some states within 6 months of their spouse's death).

At this point,you should consult directly with a probate attorney in the area.

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