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Massachusetts Agencies

Wife's Right of Dower


Park, Massachusetts Practice states:

It is no longer necessary, in the execution of conveyance (sic), to obtain a release of dower or curtesy[1] rights, for, after several unsuccessful attempts, the legislature was finally prevailed upon to limit dower and curtesy to only those lands owned by the decedent at the time of his or her death.

Moreover, G.L.c. 189, §1 provides, among other things, as follows:

A surviving spouse shall hold for life one third of all land owned by a deceased spouse at the time of death. Such estate shall be known as tenancy by dower. Any encumbrances on land at the time of the owner's death shall have precedence over dower. (Emphasis added).

So, not only is it unnecessary for the wife to sign anything, but it is also true that when her right to dower arises it will be subject to the lender's mortgage.

The above rule also applies to husbands and their dower (formerly called curtesy) rights. 

1 This term is no longer applicable as the estate is now known as tenancy by dower as to both spouses.