Michigan Law has been brought into modern times through the abolishment of dower rights. Prior to this change in Law, Michigan was the only state which preserved dower for the benefit of women only. Briefly stated, dower was a specific distribution that a widow could elect as her share of her deceased spouse’s estate. After April 7, 2017 a widow will no longer have the option to elect the dower share. The elimination of this option for a widow means that the wife need not join in the conveyance of property owned by her spouse alone. There are two important clarifications to make regarding this changed practice.
First, the abolishment of dower is not effective until April 7, 2017. Because of that, a female spouse must still join in the execution of conveyance prior to April 7, 2017.
Secondly, the elimination of dower has not altered Michigan’s Laws regarding homestead rights. Michigan’s Laws regarding Homestead rights benefit men and woman equally and mean that a spouse is required to join in the execution of certain mortgages in order to perfect the lien of that mortgage. Where a spouse is no longer required to execute a mortgage to bar dower rights, the spouse may still be required to execute a mortgage because of homestead rights.