The law of some states provides that if a married person dies, their spouse gets the right to use any real estate they owned (or in some cases some fraction, usually 1/3) during their life. Some states provide that if a married person ever owned real estate, even when they sell it, their spouse retains the right to use it after their death.
CURTESY, or COURTESY
Scotch Law. A life-rent given by law to the surviving husband, of all his wife's heritage of which she died infeft, if there was a child of the marriage born alive. The child born of the marriage must be the mother's heir. If she had a child by a former marriage who is to succeed to her estate, the husband has no right to the curtesy while such child is alive; so that the curtesy is due to the husband rather as father to the heir, than as hushand to an heiress, conformable to the Roman law which gives to the father the usufruct of what the child succeeds to by the mother.
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