In its lame duck session of 2016, the legislature passed a package of bills abolishing Michigan dower. Effective 90 days from the date the bills are signed by the governor and filed with the Secretary of State, transfers of real estate in Michigan will no longer be subject to a potential dower claim (with the exception of property owned by men who die before the effective date). These bills can be found on the Michigan Legislature’s website (see SB 558, SB 560 and HB 5520). This package amends MCL 552.101, which required all Judgments of Divorce to address a wife’s dower rights. For family lawyers, this means that Judgments of Divorce will no longer contain this language.
As a note of interest, Michigan was only one of about 10 states that still had dower and the only state which had dower but not curtsy (a husband’s right to an interest in a wife’s property). It will be interesting to see how the Michigan probate code will change over the next year or so, given the recent decisions of Obergefell v. Hodges and DeBoer v. Snyder, which held that states must license marriage between two people of the same sex and recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex in another state.