What Is the Application of Dower and Curtesy?

Dower and curtesy are old-fashioned terms that describe married partners’ property rights. These rights usually occur in scenarios including death and inheritance. They may also arise in other contexts and might prevent one spouse from selling or transferring property without the authorization of the affected partner.


Dower is an other half’s interest in her partner’s property. When her spouse passes away, the wife is entitled to a certain percentage or value of her spouse’s property if he passed away without a will. If he did leave a will, she can generally choose to take her dower rights rather of a lower quantity left in the will.


Curtesy is a husband’s interest in his better half’s property. In some states the amount of dower and curtesy were different in spite of having the same intent besides the sex of the individual supplying the right. Laws have mostly altered so that the dower and curtesy rights are the very same.

Application of Dower and Curtesy Principles

Dower and curtesy laws have largely overruled these rights. Nevertheless, a couple of states still acknowledge these rights. These rights are planned to protect the surviving spouse. In case a partner passes away without a will, these rules secure the quantity and value of property that can be drawn from the decedent’s estate. Dower and curtesy rights are based on state law. In some states, these rights do not use till a particular occasion has actually occurred, such as the death of the other spouse.

Other Ramifications

When buying or offering property, it is likewise crucial to be familiar with these principles. If a spouse is married and does not have his or her spouse sign the deed, the buyer can rescind the purchase due to the fact that the seller can not supply valuable title to it.

Elective Share

Many states have eliminated dower and curtesy in favor of the “optional share.” Under this kind of law, the partner can either take what is left in the will or the share that is supplied under law. Some states have basic shares for all partners, such as one-third or one-half of the estate. In other states, the quantity of the optional share depends on the length of the marital relationship. For example, a state may offer three percent of the estate if the couple has actually been married less than a year approximately a certain quantity, typically after 10 years of marriage.

Waiving Rights

Spouses may be able to waive their dower, curtesy or elective share rights. They may do so by signing a prenuptial contract or valid postnuptial arrangement. Some states have different rules concerning what kind of file should be put in location to waive or surrender these rights.

Legal Support

Individuals who are concerned about dower or curtesy rights might choose to get in touch with an estate planning lawyer for support. She or he may discuss a client’s rights in addition to the rights of the other partner. He or she might prepare a deed, prenuptial arrangement or postnuptial arrangement that clarifies or waives these rights. In addition, she or he might describe to a spouse what he or she is entitled to in the occasion that a waiver has not been made.