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What Are Dower And Curtesy?

Each state has unique laws that apply when it comes to married people’s rights to their spouse’s property.  One such law is known as dower and curtesy.

Arkansas is one of the only states to recognize this concept. The Legal Information Institute defines dower and curtesy as rights of one spouse to the other spouse’s property when that person dies.

Dower Explained

While dower and curtesy go together as a concept, there are two parts to it. Dower is the right of a wife to a husband’s property upon his death. It entitles a wife to a certain portion of the estate for life.

Curtesy Explained

Curtesy, on the other hand, are the husband’s rights to the wife’s property.

Changes Explained

While dower has stayed pretty much the same over time, curtesy has undergone some changes. Men generally didn’t have a lot of rights to the property of their wives. While they had curtesy, it was usually far less than dower. In addition, the law used to only allow cutesy if the couple had children together. If they did not have kids, then the husband was out of luck.

Such discrimination is no longer standard. The law has caught up with the times, even though, on its surface, it is still an antiquated idea that most other states do not recognize. With that said, dower and curtesy is pretty much the same as inheritance rights in most other states that give a wife majority rights to a husband’s estate when he dies. Dower and curtesy is simply a more complex way to say it.