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

Surviving spouse rights are protected under Nebraska law, and include:

  • Elective Share
  • Homestead Allowance
  • Exempt Property
  • Family Allowance

These widow’s rights are important, and sometimes depend on whether or not the deceased spouse had a valid will.

What are a Surviving Spouse’s Rights in Nebraska If There Is No Will?

If a decedent dies without a valid will, then they have died intestate.  In an intestate estate, the law of Nebraska governs the share of the estate that goes to each beneficiary.  The share of the surviving spouse depends on the other survivors of the decedent. R.R.S. Neb 30-2302.

  • Surviving Spouse Entitled to Entire Estate:  If the decedent had no surviving issue or parent, the surviving spouse is entitled to the entire estate.
  • Surviving Spouse Entitled to Part of the Estate:  If the decedent had surviving parents but no issue, or surviving issue all of whom are the surviving spouse’s issue, then the surviving spouse is entitled to receive $100,000 plus 1/2 the balance of the estate.  If the decedent has surviving issue, one or more of whom are not those of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse is entitled to 1/2 of the estate.

Surviving Spouse Elective Share Rights – Election Against The Will

If the deceased spouse had a valid will, the surviving spouse can renounce the will and elect to take an elective share of the augmented estate.  A surviving spouse might want to renounce the will because the surviving spouse is not satisfied with the bequest, or is disinherited.  Under Nebraska law, a surviving spouse has the right to take an elective share in any fraction not in excess of 1/2 of the augmented estate.  R.R.S. Neb. § 30-2313.

The augmented estate is defined in section 30-2314 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes, and is the estate, first, reduced by the aggregate amount of funeral and administration expenses, homestead allowance, family allowance and exemptions, and enforceable claims and, second, increased by the aggregate amount of certain enumerated items.

The surviving spouse must exercise this right of election within nine (9) months after the date of the decedent’s death, or within six (6) months after probate of the decedent’s will. R.R.S. Neb. § 30-2317.

Surviving Spouse Allowances and Elections

A surviving spouse has rights to certain allowances and elections under Nebraska law.  These rights include:

  • Homestead allowance:  A surviving spouse is entitled to a homestead allowance of $20,000.  R.R.S. Neb. 2322.
  • Exempt Property:  A surviving spouse is entitled to exempt property up to $12,500 in excess of any security interests therein.  R.R.S. Neb. 2323.
  • Family Allowance:  A surviving spouse is entitled to a reasonable allowance in money out of the estate for support and maintenance during the administration of the estate.  R.R.S. Neb. 2324.

All of these allowances are permitted whether or not an elective share is taken.

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