Probate, trust, guardianship and inheritance litigation
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Surviving Spouse Rights Hawaii

Hawaii law provides surviving spouses with rights, including:

  • Intestate Share
  • Homestead Allowance
  • Exempt Property
  • Maintenance Allowance
  • Elective Share

What Are A Surviving Spouse’s Rights in Hawaii When There Is No Valid Will?

When a decedent dies and does not have a valid will, the decedent has died intestate.  Hawaii’s laws of intestacy will govern.  The share of the estate to which the widow is entitled depends on the other heirs that have survived the decedent.  HI Rev Stat 560:2-102.

Entire Estate

If the decedent had no surviving parent or descendant, or all of decedent’s descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse has the right to the entire intestate estate.

Partial Estate

  • If decedent was survived by parents, but no descendants, the surviving spouse is entitled to $200,000 plus ¾ of the balance of the intestate estate.
  • If the decedent and the surviving spouse have shared descendants, and the surviving spouse has separate surviving descendants, then the surviving spouse is entitled to $150,000 plus ½ of the balance of the estate.
  • If the decedent has surviving descendants who are not the descendants of the surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse is entitled to $100,000 plus ½ of the balance of the estate.

Surviving Spouse’s Right to Elect To Take an Elective Share

The surviving spouse may elect an elective share equal to the value of the elective share percentage (noted in table below) based on the length of time the decedent and surviving spouse were married to one another.  HI Rev Stat 560:2-202.

Length of the Marriage

Elective Share of the Augmented Estate

Less than 1 year

Supplemental amount only.

1 year but less than 2 years


2 years but less than 3 years


3 years but less than 4 years


4 years but less than 5 years


5 years but less than 6 years


6 years but less than 7 years


7 years but less than 8 years


8 years but less than 9 years


9 years but less than 10 years


10 years but less than 11 years


11 years but less than 12 years


12 years but less than 13 years


13 years but less than 14 years


14 years but less than 15 years


15 years or more



The augmented estate is calculated by the sum of the value of all property, whether real or person; movable or immovable, tangible or intangible, wherever situated, that constitute the decedent’s net probate estate, the decedent’s non-probate transfers to others, the decedent’s non-probate transfers to the surviving spouse, and the surviving spouse’s property and non-probate transfers to others. HI Rev Stat 560:2-203.

The election by a surviving spouse to take the elective share must be made filing with the Court or delivering to the personal representative, a petition for the elective share by the later of nine (9) months after the decedent’s death or six (6) months after the probate of the decedent’s will. HI Rev Stat 560:2-211.

Surviving Spouse’s Allowances and Exemptions

A surviving spouse also has the right to claim certain allowances and exemptions under Hawaii law.

  • Homestead Allowance:  A surviving spouse is entitled to a homestead allowance of $15,000.  HI Rev Stat 560:2-402.
  • Exempt Property:  A surviving spouse has the right to exempt property up to $10,000.  HI Rev Stat 560:2-403.
  • Maintenance Allowance:  A surviving spouse in Hawaii has the right to a reasonable allowance for maintenance.  The purpose of this allowance is to maintain the spouse during the period of administration of the estate. HI Rev Stat 560:2-404.