When an Alaskan makes a will, he is free to leave everything to his spouse. Because Alaska is an "opt-in" community property state, property acquired while married is considered equally owned by both spouses if they have a written agreement. If spouses have a community property agreement, they cannot give more than their share of community property to a third-party in a will. If a spouse dies without a will, the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate -- both community property and separate property -- if the deceased spouse has no surviving children or parents. However, if the deceased spouse has no children, but has a surviving parent, the surviving spouse can only receive up to $200,000, plus three-fourths of what remains of the estate.
Alaska's inheritance laws provide for children when a parent fails to leave a will. For example, if an unmarried parent dies without a will, his children receive all of his estate in equal shares. This means that if there are four children, each child is entitled to one-fourth of the estate. Furthermore, if the parent who dies without a will is married at the time of death, his children are entitled to a portion of the estate if his surviving spouse had children with someone else, i.e. children with a man other than the deceased, for example, an ex-husband..
Alaska's inheritance laws state that a decedent's other heirs -- such as siblings, nieces, nephews and grandparents -- receive all, or a portion of the estate under certain circumstances. For example, if a decedent has no surviving spouse or children, his parents inherit his entire estate in equal shares. If a decedent has no surviving spouse, children or parents, his entire estate passes to his siblings in equal shares; nieces and nephews may inherit "by right of representation" if their parents are deceased. If there are no surviving heirs whatsoever, a decedent's estate will pass to the State of Alaska.
As a result of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Native Alaskans may own shares in one of the 13 Regional Corporations or a village corporation. Alaska Natives may leave their shares in a will to Native family members and non-Native spouses. If an Alaska Native owns shares, but doesn't make a will, all of his shares will pass to his surviving spouse. If he has children and a surviving spouse, half of his shares will pass to his surviving spouse and the other half to his surviving children.