IF THERE IS NO WILL, then default rules of succession apply. You can see this here
. It is the entire estate if there are no children. If there are children, then the first $150,000 and half of the estate, and so on.
IF THERE IS A WILL, then the surviving spouse can claim either what is in the Will, or, a spousal elective share
. A widow(er) may elect to request a share of their deceased spouse's estate even if left out of the will.
The elective share is an amount equal to the value of the elective share percentage of the augmented estate. This percentage is determined by the length of time the spouse and the decedent were married to each other. In Minnesota, for example, if the spouses were married for one year but less than two years, then the surviving spouse can elect to three percent of the augmented estate. This percentage increases up to 50% when the spouses are married for 15 years or more. The matter follows a complex formula and will vary from 3% to 50% depending on the length of the marriage.
I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.
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