This section is from the book "The Law Of Real Property and Other Interests In Land", by Herbert Thorn Dike Tiffany. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise on the Modern Law of Real Property and Other Interests in Land .
At common law, the surviving hushand was entitled to an estate by curtesy in his wife's real property,20 while he took an absolute interest in her personal property, including chattels real.21 Apart from his estate by curtesy, her real property did not pass to him, even though otherwise it escheated for failure of heirs. In this country, at the present day, the surviving husband is frequently given a fee-simple interest in his wife's real property. In some, he is, if the wife leaves no issue, given a fee-simple interest in all her realty, while in some he is given one-half or two-thirds of her realty in such case. In a number of states, although there are children, he takes a share by descent, which is greater or less, according to the number of children who are to share in the intestate's property. In some states, moreover, he takes all the realty, if the wife leaves no issue, parent, or brother or sister, and in most, if not in all, the states, he takes it if she leaves no kindred.22
The surviving wife had, at common law, her right of dower only out of his realty, while, by the English statute of distribution, she was given one-third of his personalty, unless he left no issue, in which case she had one-half.23 In this country the widow is frequently, by statute, given a fee-simple interest in a portion of her husband's realty in certain contingencies, as when he leaves no issue, or no issue, parent, or brother or sister, or when he leaves no kindred, her rights corresponding, in a general way, to those of a surviving husband.24 In a number of states, moreover, she is given a third or a half in fee simple, even though her husband leaves
20. Ante, Sec.Sec. 237-245.
21. Co. Litt. 351; 2 Blackst. Comm. 434.
22. 1 Stimson's Am. St. Law. Sec.Sec. 3105, 3109, 3115, 3119, 3123; 1 Woerner, Administration, Sec. fi6; 1
23. 2 Blackst. Comm. 515,
24. 1 Stimson's Am. St Law, Sec.Sec. 3109, 3115, 311!'. 3123; 1 Woerner, Administration. Sec. 67; 1 Dembitz, Land Titles. Sec. 32 issue,25 and this she is frequently allowed to take in lieu of any provisions made for her in his will.26