THERE ARE THREE ESSENTIALS TO THE ESTATE OF DOWER. There are three essentials to the estate of dower, these are: 1. Mar riage. 2. Seizin of the husband. 3. Death of the husband.
1. The marriage must be a legal marriage as dis tinguished from a void marriage. Thus where one of the parties is insane at the time of the marriage, it is void, and the widow in such a case would have no right of dower. If the marriage is merely voidable, as for want of sufficient age, if the parties continue to live together until they have reached the legal age, the marriage becomes valid, and the widow would be entitled to dower.
2. If at any time during coverture the husband be came seized solely in his own right, of any estate of inheritance, that is, a fee simple or fee tail, in lands to which any issue, which the wife might have had, might by possibility have been heir, she from that time became entitled, on his decease, to have one equal third part of the same lands allotted to her, to be enjoyed in severalty during the remainder of her life. Seizin in law is sufficient, and seizin in deed is not necessary. Otherwise in the case of an estate by curtesy.
3. The husband's death may be a natural death, or a so-called legal or civil death, as by becoming an outlaw, or entering a monastery at common law.
At common law the wife of an alien was not en titled to dower because an alien could not hold prop erty. But in most if not all of the American states, an alien can hold property, and hence the widow of such a person would be entitled to dower.
The wife has no interest in the lands during the lifetime of her husband, and in this matter dower differs from curtesy. At common law, the husband had actual control of his wife's property during cover ture. So far as dower is concerned it is an interest, and becomes an estate upon the death of the hus band. During the life of the husband it is an inchoate estate, and does not become a vested interest until his death. It being a mere possibility, her deed passes no title; and she could not release her right to a stran ger, only to the owner of the fee.