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Definition:

Curtesy is a principle in common law in England and early America by which a widower could use his deceased wife's property (that is, property which she acquired and held in her own name) until his own death, but could not sell or transfer it to anyone but children of his wife.

Today in the United States, instead of using common law curtesy rights, most states explicitly require that one-third to one-half of a wife's property be given outright to her husband at her death, if she dies without a will (intestate). Curtesy is occasionally used to refer to a widower's interest as surviving spouse in the property left by the deceased wife, but many states have officially abolished curtesy and dower.

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