A wife can inherit OR be gifted an unlimited amount of asset value from a husband with no gift or estate tax consequences. HOWEVER, state law determines whether or not the wife is the automatic heir and, if there are other potential heirs and it is not spelled out specifically, you are likely to have a long battle over who gets what.
In New Jersey (based on my understanding), the wife will inherit assets that are actually jointly owned. Everything else passes by will or by intestacy as follows:
If the deceased was married with no children:
and that person’s parents are not living, and that person has no children, then the surviving spouse inherits everything.
If the deceased was married and has a child:
If the child is also the surviving spouse’s child, then the surviving spouse inherits up to $50,000 and ½ of the balance of the estate, and the other ½ goes to the child or children.
If the child is the offspring of the deceased and someone other than the surviving spouse, then the spouse inherits ½ of the estate, and the child inherits the other ½ of the estate.
If the deceased was married, and had no children, but one or both of the deceased’s parents are alive:
The surviving spouse inherits up to $50,000 plus ½ of the estate, and the surviving parent or parents inherit the other ½ of the estate