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How can I protect my spouse’s rights to our property?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2023 | Firm News

When you marry the one you love, you build a beautiful life together. You buy a home together; you may even start a business together; you raise children together—everything owned and built together, until death do you part. Of course, you would like to make sure that when the inevitable happens, you protect the interests of your spouse.

Fortunately, Arkansas is one of the only states that still recognizes dower and curtesy.

What is dower and curtesy?

The law of dower and curtesy applies antiquated principles to protect the rights of a spouse to all the assets accumulated in a marriage. It prevents the living spouse from inheriting nothing from the estate.

  • Dower: The wife’s rights to one-third to one-half of her husband’s property upon the death of the husband
  • Curtesy: The husband’s rights to all the wife’s properties upon death of the wife, but only if they had a child together

Today, the law of dower and curtesy does not discriminate between husband and wife; it is equal and includes all genders. It entitles whoever the living spouse may be to a third of the estate. In case your spouse has died intestate or without a will, this law automatically applies and is absolute.

Though it seems unfair that the love of your life only receives one-third of the life you both made. That is the reason a will is so important.

Where there is a will, there is a way

A comprehensive written will is one of the best legal ways to guarantee your living spouse receives everything they deserve. By creating a written and legal will, you can explicitly say what part of your entire estate will go to your living spouse. You have given each other everything. You can still do that with a will.