If my father remarries and then dies before his wife, is she entilted to everything if he doesn’t have a Will?

What if he has a Will?

Asked on November 30, 2011 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If someone dies without a Will they die "intestate". Accordingly, the intestacy laws of the state in which they were domiciled as of the date of their death will control. In most states, succession (i.e. distribution of the estate) is typically along the lines of 1/2 - 1/3 to the surviving spouse, if any, and 1/2 - 2/3 to the deceased's children. The exact terms of the asset split varies from state-to-state.

If your father dies with a Will, then it terms will control just what his wife is entitled to. However, one spouse may not disinherit another. By virtue of something known as the "elective share" a spouse can elect to take a certain statutory amount of thie deceased spouse's estate as opposed to being left nothing or only a nominal share. Again, this amount will vary depending on the state.

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