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widow's election

n. the choice a widow makes between accepting what her husband left her in his will and what she would receive by the laws of succession. Example: the state law in which the husband died would give his widow one-half of his estate by the law of succession (the other half going to the children) if there were no will, but in his will the late husband left his widow only one-quarter of his estate. She can elect to take the one-half.

See also: community property  descent and distribution  succession  will 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications