| Share


dower, that portion of a deceased husband's real property that a widow is legally entitled to use during her lifetime to support herself and their children. A wife may claim the dower if her husband dies without a will or if she dissents from the will. At common law, dower consists of a one-third interest in all the land that the husband owned during the marriage. In many states of the United States dower rights have been abolished and other provisions, especially rights of inheritance, have been made for the widow. Where it still exists, the dower right attaches to the land as soon as it comes into the husband's possession; for that reason it cannot be defeated by a conveyance of the land by the husband in his lifetime unless his wife joins in the deed. If the wife is the guilty party in a divorce or the marriage is annulled, the right of the wife to dower is ended. The husband's lifetime use of his deceased wife's property, a right that is contingent on the birth of lawful issue, is known as curtesy.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on dower from Infoplease:

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Legal Terms and Concepts

Premium Partner Content
HighBeam Research
Documents Images and Maps Reference
(from Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, Newswires, Transcripts and Books)

Research our extensive archive of more than 80 million articles from 6,500 publications.

Additional search results provided by HighBeam Research, LLC. © Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring