Renouncing a Will

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Terminating your rights under a will for the better statutory provisions

Why would you renounce a will?  If there is a Will, the surviving spouse can renounce it and the inheritance it contains (if any), and instead elect to take a share of the estate specifically provided by state law. 

This is a legal device originally intended for the protection of the wife. Historically, all of a family’s property might be titled solely in the husband’s name. The “elective share” protects a woman (or man) against being “written out” of a spouse’s Will.

For example, a husband might have all the couple’s property in his name alone, and write a Will directing all of it to his children by a previous marriage. 

The wife could file a petition in probate court to take her “elective share” of the estate under state law. Usually the surviving spouse can take about one third to one half of the estate. 

That share varies among the states, and so does the definition of “estate” that is used in the calculation. Also, state laws contain a very wide variety of significant details, limits, dollar allowances and exceptions. 

These are all involved in determining what and how much property the surviving spouse can elect to take from the deceased spouse’s estate, instead of whatever he/she is left in the Will.

This provision is however, only possible when there is no prenuptial agreement in place.