In re the Estate of James W. Miltenberger v. Sandra Swartz

Erika Leuffen Salerno

Case Conclusion Date:April 10, 2008

Practice Area:Appeals

Outcome:Denied.

Description:In In re Miltenberger Estate, the widow asserted her dower rights to real estate that her late husband had transferred by quit-claim deed to his daughter by a previous marriage. A state statute, MCL 558.1, provides that “The widow of every deceased person, shall be entitled to dower, or the use during her natural life, of 1/3 part of all the lands whereof her husband was seized of an estate of inheritance, at any time during the marriage, unless she is lawfully barred thereof.” Article 10, section 1 of the Michigan constitution, as well as MCL 700.2202(2), also provide for the right to dower. The deceased’s daughter, who served as personal representative of his estate, opposed the dower request, arguing that the dower provisions violate the Equal Protection Clauses of the Michigan and federal constitutions because dower rights are awarded only to women. But both the trial court and Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the constitutional challenge, with the appellate court noting that it “remains an unfortunate fact that there are still circumstances in which the surviving wife may be significantly disadvantaged, in a way that surviving husbands generally are not, in the absence of dower, and the Legislature may properly consider such circumstances through the enacted dower statute.”

Litigator, negotiator, mediator and trusted advisor. Contact Erika today.

269-321-2366