What Are Dower Rights in Michigan?

In the state of Michigan, the right of dower assigns a married woman one-third ownership rights to any property purchased by the husband. Dower rights are claimed after a husband dies. The widow is entitled to a portion of the property assets for the rest of her life.

Dower rights in Michigan only apply to property that is purchased during the marriage, and they are only awarded to the wife, not the husband. Dower laws often come into play after a husband dies. Under the law, a widow may use one-third of the husband's property to provide for herself and the couple's children.

Sometimes the dower law is a factor in property transactions that take place between the husband and a third party. For instance, if a husband attempts to sell property purchased during the marriage, he must get his wife's signature on any legal paperwork, because the dower law is effective the moment the husband obtains the property. Thus, the wife legally owns a portion of the property, and the property cannot be sold without the wife's signature on legal documents pertaining to the property. However, dower rights are not transferable. While a widow can enjoy her share of a property during her lifetime, she cannot pass on her dower rights to anyone else.