What Is the Application of Dower and Curtesy?

Dower and curtesy are antiquated terms that refer to married partners’ property rights. These rights usually occur in circumstances including death and inheritance. However, they may likewise arise in other contexts and might prevent one spouse from selling or moving property without the approval of the affected partner.


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


Curtesy is a spouse’s interest in his partner’s property. In some states the quantity of dower and curtesy were various in spite of having the same intent besides the sex of the individual offering the right. Laws have actually mainly altered so that the dower and curtesy rights are the same.

Application of Dower and Curtesy Principles

Dower and curtesy laws have actually mainly struck down these rights. A few states still acknowledge these rights. These rights are meant to safeguard the making it through spouse. In case a spouse dies without a will, these guidelines protect the quantity and worth of property that can be taken from the decedent’s estate. Dower and curtesy rights are based upon state law. In some states, these rights do not use until a particular event has occurred, such as the death of the other spouse.

Other Ramifications

When purchasing or offering property, it is likewise crucial to be acquainted with these concepts. If a spouse is married and does not have his or her partner sign the deed, the purchaser can rescind the purchase because the seller can not offer valuable title to it.

Elective Share

Many states have actually abolished dower and curtesy in favor of the “optional share.” Under this type 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 amount of the optional share depends on the length of the marital relationship. A state may provide three percent of the estate if the couple has actually been married less than a year up to a particular quantity, generally after 10 years of marital relationship.

Waiving Rights

Spouses might be able to waive their dower, curtesy or elective share rights. They might do so by signing a prenuptial arrangement or valid postnuptial contract. Some states have different rules regarding what type of file need to be put in location to waive or forfeit these rights.

Legal Assistance

Individuals who are concerned about dower or curtesy rights may decide to call an estate planning attorney for assistance. She or he might discuss a customer’s rights in addition to the rights of the other partner. She or he may prepare a deed, prenuptial arrangement or postnuptial agreement that clarifies or waives these rights. In addition, she or he may explain to a spouse what she or he is entitled to in the occasion that a waiver has not been made.