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What’s the Deal with Dower? Here’s what you need to know…

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Then there were 3. Three States remain in which Dower Rights exist: Ohio, Arkansas, and Kentucky.


What are dower rights anyways?

Dower Rights are the interest in real estate intended to protect a spouse who does not hold title on a property. Dower Rights apply whenever an individual owns real estate and is married.


Here are some common questions we field with regards to spouses and signing:

1. When must a spouse sign title documents?

-when selling a property

-when purchasing a property with financing

2. When would a spouse not be required to sign title documents?

-when one spouse is purchasing a property with cash

-if one spouse is POA for the other spouse. Original POA will need to be recorded

3. Divorce or Separation is pending, does the spouse need to sign?

Yes! Until the divorce or separation is final with the courts, parties are still considered married

and with that, dower rights still apply.

4. My spouse is not a borrower, why do they need to sign?

If the purchase is being financed, the spouse’s signature is required on certain documents even though they are not the one borrowing money. The reason has something to do with if the bank were ever to foreclose on the property. In the case of a foreclosure, the non-borrowing spouse’s signatures at closing allows the bank to foreclosure without the dower rights standing in the way.

5. I don’t know where my spouse is. Can I still sell my property without their signature?

No. You may need to reach out to a real estate attorney for guidance.

6. My spouse will not sign documents for my financed purchase or for my sale. Can I still purchase or sell?

No. You may need to reach out to a real estate attorney for guidance.

7. I am divorced, but was married when I purchased my property. Does my ex need to sign closing documents?

Probably not.

Divorce documents are always reviewed as a part of the title and escrow process. It may be determined that an ex-spouse’s signature is needed for the purpose of clarity that the decree was followed with regards to the property.

Dower rights have been called antiquated, but for the time being they exists and must be upheld in any Ohio Real Estate transaction.

As always, If you have any questions about dower rights and how it relates to a possible transaction, please reach out!

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