In most states, if you have executed a Last Will and Testament and your spouse is still living after you die, your spouse can elect to take a share of your estate despite what your Will provides for.
For instance, if you specify that your spouse should be excluded from your Last Will and Testament, or that he or she is to receive only a minimal amount, your spouse may elect to take a larger share of your estate against the terms of your Will. This is known as an “elective share.”
While this is allowed under most state’s laws, the actual amount of the elective share can vary depending on your state’s statutes. The elective share is usually one-third, but in some states is one-half, and oftentimes depends upon the length of the marriage and whether you leave other heirs.