sidhlairiel (sidhlairiel) wrote in little_details,

19th Century US Inheritance Laws

I am pulling my hair out trying to research this, since there were so many amendments/reforms regarding property rights and marriage laws in this period. I've googled until I can google no more.

My story is set in late nineteeth century America. My character is a self-made shipping tycoon who marries the daughter of a wealthy banker in 1852. He dies in 1878, survived by his wife and his twenty four year old bachelor son. The wife and the son continue to live together in his mansion until their deaths, with the son eventually getting married at the behest of his mother.

My query is: who exactly inherits the tycoon's fortune/estate? Would it be his widow or his son? The tycoon dearly loved his wife and would not have denied her anything, (in the event his son died and she would be forced to find somewhere else to live, for example) but his son was his 'successor', so to speak, trained to take over his father's business affairs when he died.

In particular, I'm not sure if at this point in history men still had precedence over women when it came to inheritance. Could anyone clarify this?


Edit: Oops, I forgot to mention. This story is set in Massachusetts - Boston in particular.
Tags: 1870-1879, usa: massachusetts, ~inheritance

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