What is an Elective Share?
People creating an estate plan often have questions about what they should, or must, leave to their
spouse. While there is no law that states you have to leave any specific property to your spouse, many
states have elective share laws that prevent you from entirely disinheriting your spouse through your
will. An elective share, also known as a spousal share, is the percentage of your estate your spouse is
entitled to receive if you die.
Each state has its own laws governing elective shares, though they all essentially work the same way.
For example, let's say you create a last will and testament and fail to leave any property to your spouse.
In this situation, the surviving spouse can opt to take a share of your estate. The amount your surviving
spouse can take differs, but is often between one-third and one-half of your estate. These spousal share
laws prevent spouses from disinheriting one another.
However, even though your state may have an elective share law, that doesn't mean your spouse has to
accept a portion of the estate. These are optional, or elective, inheritances, and a spouse can either
choose to receive the statutory percentage or take in accordance with the terms of your last will.
Spousal shares and elective shares only come into effect if a person dies leaving behind a valid last will
and testament. If you don't leave behind a will, your spouse is automatically entitled to a portion of the
estate under the terms of your state's laws of intestacy.
Laws about elective shares, wills and intestacy all differ significantly between states. You should
always talk to an experienced estate planning attorney if you need legal advice about your situation or
have specific questions about the laws in your state.
Experienced estate planning attorneys Greensboro NC of the Law Offices of Cheryl David offers estate
planning and business planning resources to residents of Greensboro NC. To learn more about these
free resources, please visit http://www.cheryldavid.com today.