Renunciation of her deceased husband's will entitles a widow to a specified percentage of the husband's net estate (or a dower interest) in lieu of any benefits she would otherwise have received under the will. The size of the dissenting widow's share differs among the several states, but the normal range is from one third to one half of her husband's net estate. In some jurisdictions the widow's share is determined, in whole or in part, according to the portion to which she would be entitled if her husband had died intestate, but in these jurisdictions the widow's share generally cannot exceed a specified percentage of the estate. The property of the decedent that is subject to the widow's dissent is described by such terms as "the net estate," "the surplus after payment of debts," or the "remainder of the personal property." Whatever language is employed, the thrust of the statutory provisions is to protect a widow by giving her an election to take, in lieu of her husband's testamentary gifts, a specified share of his real and personal property remaining after payment of funeral expenses, administrative expenses, and other claims against the estate.
Kahn, Douglas A. "Federal Estate Tax Burden Borne by a Dissenting Widow." Mich. L. Rev. 64, no. 8 (1966): 1499-522.