A surviving spouse may waive the provisions provided to him or her under the deceased spouse’s will and, in lieu of those provisions, elect to take one-half of the balance of the estate, after the payment of claims and expenses. 14 V.S.A. § 319. The statute provides that:

  • The surviving spouse must be living at the time this election is made.

  • If the surviving spouse is mentally disabled and cannot make the election personally, a guardian or attorney in fact under a valid durable power of attorney may do so.

14 V.S.A. § 319.

The intestate share of the surviving spouse depends on whether his or her deceased spouse died survived by descendants who are not also descendants of the surviving spouse.  In the former example, where the surviving spouse is either the only heir to the decedent or all descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse receives the entire intestate estate. If the decedent is survived by one or more descendants who are no not descendants of the surviving spouse and are not excluded by the decedent’s will from inheriting from the decedent, the surviving spouse shall receive one-half of the intestate estate.  14 V.S.A. § 311.

Vermont, like many other states, has abolished dower and curtesy.

Homestead allowance for the amount of $125,000 and family allowance for the surviving spouse during estate administration are additional entitlements afforded to a surviving spouse under Vermont law.

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