District of Columbia Disclaimer of Property Interests Law

Wills and Estates – Disclaimer of Property Interest – District of Columbia

Renunciation of devises and bequests; election; time limitations; renunciation or election by guardian or fiduciary; maximum rights; effect of no devise or bequest or if nothing passes under either; antenuptial or postnuptial agreements.

(a) Subject to section 19-114, a surviving spouse is, by a devise or bequest specified in section 19-112, barred on any statutory rights or interest he has in the real and personal estate of the deceased spouse or dower rights, as the case may be, unless, within six months after the will of the deceased spouse is admitted to probate, he files in the Probate Court a written renunciation to the following effect:

“I, A B, widow (or surviving husband) of ________ late of _________, deceased, renounce and quit all claim to any devise or bequest made to me by the last will of my husband (or wife] exhibited and proved according to law; and I elect to take in lieu thereof my legal share of the real and personal estate of my deceased spouse (except than in lieu of my legal share of the real estate, I elect to take dower in all the real estate of my deceased spouse to which that right is applicable).”

(b) In similar manner, where the deceased spouse dies intestate of real estate, and letters of administration are issued with respect to the estate the surviving spouse is barred of dower rights, unless, within six months after the letters of administration have been issued with respect to the estate of the deceased spouse, he files in the Probate Court a written renunciation of his legal share of the intestate real estate to the following effect:

“I, A B, widow (or surviving husband) of _________ deceased, in lieu of my legal share of the real estate which my deceased spouse died intestate, elect to take dower in all the real estate of my deceased spouse to which the right is applicable.”

(c) If, during the period of six months specified by subsection (a) or (b) of this section, a suit is instituted to construe the will of the deceased spouse, the period of six months for the filing of the renunciation or election commences to run from the date when the suit is finally determined. A renunciation or election may be made in behalf of a spouse unable to act for himself by reason of infancy, incompetency, or inability to manage his property, by the guardian or other fiduciary acting for the spouse when so authorized by the court having jurisdiction of the person of the spouse. The time for renunciation by a spouse may be extended before its expiration by an order of the Probate Court for successive periods of not more than six months each upon petition showing reasonable cause and on notice given to the personal representative and to the other persons herein referred to in such manner as the Probate Court directs.

(d) Where a decedent has not made a devise or bequest to the spouse, or nothing passes by a purported devise or bequest, the surviving spouse is entitled to his legal share of the real and personal estate of the deceased spouse without filing a written renunciation, but may, instead, elect to take dower as provided by subsection (b) of this section.

(e) The legal share of a surviving spouse under subsection (a) or (d) of this section is such share or interest in the real or personal property of the deceased spouse, including dower if elected in lieu of the legal share in the real estate, as he would have taken if the deceased spouse had died intestate, not to exceed one-half of the net estate bequeathed and devised by the will, or, if dower is elected, one-half of the net personal property bequeathed and dower in the real estate devised.

(f) A valid antenuptial or postnuptial agreement entered into by the spouses determines the rights of the surviving spouse in the real and personal estate of the deceased spouse and the administration thereof, but a spouse may accept the benefits of a devise or bequest made to him by the deceased spouse.

Part III, Title 19, Chap. 1, ยง19-113.


Inside District of Columbia Disclaimer of Property Interests Law