Published Opinion Remembers Dower

By Doug Chalgian on June 5, 2022

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Greg and Constance were married.

In 2003, during the marriage, Greg received property via a deed which did not include any reference to Constance.  In 2006, while still married, Greg deeded the property to Lori and Matt, again without reference to Constance.

The Michigan legislature abolished dower in 2017.

Constance died in 2018.

Greg died in 2020.

After Greg’s death, Greg’s estate initiated a quiet title action seeking to have the 2006 deed deemed void for the reason that it failed to include Constance’s signature.  They argue that the statute of frauds requires written conveyances be signed by all persons with an interest in the property. MCL 556.106.  The trial court finds this argument persuasive and rules in favor of Greg’s estate on summary disposition.

The Court of Appeals reverses the trial court and directs the trial court to instead grant summary in favor of Lori and Matt.

The COA holds that the failure to address Constance’s dower interest in the 2006 deed merely gave rise to a cloud on the title (as opposed to a violation of MCL 556.106 sufficient to void the transfer), and further that the cloud was lifted by both the passage of MCL 558.30 in 2017 (pursuant to which dower rights were extinguished), and by the fact that Constance died before Greg (never having exercised her dower rights).

In Re Estate of Gregory Price Burnett (click on the name to read the case) presents a curious issue and offers an involved analysis. Although the opinion is published, in the end the case probably has little usefulness in light of the current status of dower.



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mm By: Doug Chalgian
Doug Chalgian

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