My boyfriend passed away July 1st in a tragic accident and now his sister is trying to take away our dog Jake. We had lived together for over a year before he passed. David had purchased our dog, Jake, before we had moved in together but over the past year, plus we have developed a strong bond and I don't want to lose Jake! Can she do this?
I am very sorry for your loss. Estate laws differ all over so I strongly suggest you consult with a local attorney. In general, rights in these situations depend on a number of different factors. For example, if an animal was co-owned or given away as a gift or sold prior to death, typically the co-owner or recipient of the gift/sale would have greater rights than another person. If a person bequeathed his/her animal in a will, the person named in the will to get the animal would normally have rights to the animal, unless the animal had previously been given away or sold to someone else (or someone else was the co-owner). If the decedent did not specifically mention his/her animal is a will but bequeathed his/her property to someone then, again, that person would typically have rights to that property unless it had been given away or sold prior to the decedent’s death or was co-owned. If a person dies without a will, the decedent's heirs would typically have rights to the decedent’s property (including animals) but, again, not if the animal had been given away or sold prior to the decedent’ death and not necessarily if the animal was co-owned. If litigated, courts will consider the evidence presented, including evidence regarding co-ownership and whether the animal was gifted or sold prior to the decedent’s death. I hope this all works out for the dog.
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