Election Under The Will Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Election Under The Will, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Election Under The Will?

n. in those states which have statutes which give a widow a particular percentage of the late husband’s estate (such as dower), the surviving wife may elect to take that percentage instead of any lesser amount (or assets with unacceptable conditions such as an estate which will be cancelled if she remarries) left to her under his will.

History and Meaning of Election Under The Will

Election Under The Will is a legal term used in states where a widow is entitled to receive a certain percentage of the deceased husband's estate, such as dower. In such cases, the surviving spouse has the option to either accept the portion set by law or to inherit under the terms of the deceased spouse's will. In the latter case, the surviving spouse must choose which option to pursue.

This election is important because a widow who chooses to inherit under the will may receive more or less than the statutory portion. If the value of the estate left under the will is less than the statutory portion, the spouse can choose to receive the statutory portion instead.

Examples of Election Under The Will

  1. John's will leaves his wife, Mary, with a bequest of $50,000. However, under state law, Mary is entitled to $100,000. Mary can choose to elect against the will and take the statutory portion of $100,000.

  2. In another scenario, John's will includes a condition that his wife Mary will lose her inheritance if she remarries. Mary can choose to elect against the will and take the statutory portion, which would not include any such condition.

  3. In a third scenario, John's will leaves Mary with the same amount as the statutory portion. In this case, Mary does not need to elect against the will because she is already receiving what she is entitled to under statutory law.

Legal Terms Similar to Election Under The Will

  1. Dower: A legal provision that entitles a widow to a portion of her deceased husband's estate.
  2. Forced heirship: A legal provision that mandates a portion of an individual's estate be left to their children or other family members.
  3. Intestate succession: The legal process that determines how property is distributed if an individual dies without a will. This is also known as dying "intestate".