The surviving spouse is entitled to an exempt property allowance of $32,000 (figure in 2016) and a family allowance of $32,000 (figure in 2016) for a total of $64,000 as a priority exemption out of the estate. Note that this allowance may be shared between the surviving spouse and any minor or dependent children.
The surviving spouse is to receive the entire intestate estate if there is no descendant (child, grandchild, etc.) or parent of the deceased living or if all of the deceased’s children are children of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has no other children.
If there are no children, but a parent survives the deceased, then the surviving spouse receives the first $300,000 plus 3/4 of the balance of the intestate estate, and the remaining 1/4 passes to the surviving parent(s.)
There are a series of calculations that are required if either the surviving spouse or the deceased spouse left children from other relationships. These calculations are also affected depending on whether the children are minors or adults. Obviously, you should consult your estate planning attorney to find out how your individual circumstance affects what your spouse and/or children would receive. And please remember that what the law provides all can be modified and tailored to your wishes by a properly drawn will.