Dower Abolished in Michigan

By a series of bills passed late last year, a woman’s dower interest in Michigan has been abolished.  Divorce judgments are no longer required to contain a bar of dower (since it does not exist), and actions to determine dower interests, either under the Revised Judicature Act or the Estates and Protected Individuals Code, have been abolished as well.

Dower was a legislative protection for wives:  a wife whose husband attempted to write his wife out of his will could take against the estate a 1/3 interest in his real property for life.  However, since the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell, holding that states must license same-sex marriages, Michigan’s dower was in question, since it applied only to “wives” and not to “spouses.”  Rather than extend the protection to husbands (sometimes known as curtesy), the Michigan Legislature decided to abolish dower entirely.

© Steve Sowell 2017