Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2003


Testators have traditionally enjoyed immense discretion in directing the disposition of their wealth upon death; however, when a spouse survives the testator, public policy dictates a limitation on the testator's ability to dispose of property. American jurisdictions impose this limitation through the elective share in common law states and by the nature of property ownership in community property states. Ideally, this limitation should ensure equitable financial protection for the surviving spouse and protect his or her interest in assets that were accumulated with the decedent, yet the current elective share methods fall short of these goals.