My mother, Elizabeth, sitting in front of the King Ranch Homestead, Millarville, AB ca. 1941
"It is not easy to be a pioneer - but oh, it is facinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world"
- Elizabeth Blackwell, British but notably the first woman to receive a medical degree in the US.
Dower Consent comes up in many real estate transactions here in Alberta. I thought I would write a quick 'nutshell' explanation of what it is and include some important points to know when dealing with Dower in a real estate transaction. I strongly suggest that if this blog post does not fully answer your questions or you still need more information, that you speak directly with your lawyer, as he will know best and have the legal authority to properly guide you.
To begin with, the Dower Act exists in Alberta in order to give the married spouse who is not on title certain rights to the homestead. Historically, the Dower Act came about as a response to protecting the rights of a dependent spouse on the working bread winner spouse. For instance, a pioneering man and his wife who set up a ranch or home in the countryside, she as a stay at home wife would be dependent on her husband's ranching business for survival. The Dower Act outlines the rights and protects the married spouse at time of sale, as she has the right to give permission to her husband to sell the marital home.
Today, however, Dower can apply to any home sale transaction where there is only one person's name on the title, regardless of occupation and gender. The Dower Consent question will come up usually at time of listing a property, and your trusted realtor should ask the following questions of you:
1. Are you legally married? NB: also includes separated but not yet legally divorced couples, but DOES NOT apply to common law living relationships;
2. Have you or your spouse resided on the property at any time since your marriage?
If you answer yes to these two questions, and there is only person's name on the title, then the spouse whose name is not on the title will need to arrange to have a Dower Consent form signed and will have to sign the Exclusive Seller Representation Agreement in order to have the property listed for sale in Alberta.
The Dower Consent form must be signed and submitted prior to listing, as it should accompany the other listing paperwork. Additionally, you can arrange to have this form signed either by a lawyer or by a notary public (such as at an Alberta registry in Calgary). The lawyer does not have to draft a special form, the form from the Alberta Real Estate Association that your real estate agent will supply you with is perfect for this process.
Again, if you require more information, please contact your lawyer.
Thank you for your time and contact me today if you require a FREE home evaluation!