Occasionally a spouse attempts to leave his or her spouse out of the Will.

In other words, for whatever reason, that spouse does not want the surviving spouse to inherit anything the spouse owned. More often, however, after a second marriage, the spouses simply never get around to making a new Will. The Wills they have do not mention the new spouses.

A surviving spouse, that is an Alabama resident, has the right to what is called an elective share of the deceased spouse’s estate. The elective share is the lesser of the value of the deceased spouse’s estate minus the value of the surviving spouse’s separate estate, or one third (1/3) of the deceased spouse’s estate. The spouse also has the right to statutory allowances totaling $15,500 (homestead allowance of $6,000, a personal property allowance of $3,500, and an allowance of $6,000). So, in many cases, the surviving spouse will receive 1/3 of the deceased spouse’s estate plus $15,500.00. Depending on the value of the deceased spouse’s estate, this may still be a "slap in the face" to the surviving spouse. However, at least the deceased spouse’s attempt to totally leave the surviving spouse with nothing will be unsuccessful.

Of course, if the deceased spouse did not leave a Will, Alabama intestate law will apply and will dictate how the estate is distributed. In this case, the surviving spouse will still receive the statutory allowances while the surviving spouse's remaining share of the estate will be determined by Alabama law.    

Editor’s Note: Melanie B. Bradford is an attorney located in Scottsboro, Alabama at 803 Garland Ferry Road at the intersection of Veterans Drive and Garland Ferry near The Daily Sentinel. Her phone number is 256-259-3301. The Alabama State Bar requires any communication that may be interpreted as an ad to state: “No representation is made about the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”

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