Muncy, PA asked in Animal / Dog Law for Maryland

Q: How long does my sister have to have her dead fiance's dog in her possession before it's legally hers

My sister's Fiance died on Monday and he had this dog before they even met but they were together for a little over a year and living together for about 4 months when he died his parents are to fragile to handle the dog and told her she should keep him on Friday a friend of his said he is taking the dog but my sister said n

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: The dog is personal property under the law. Personal property of a deceased person belongs to the deceased person's estate. When someone dies without a will, the law of intestate succession applies to determine the legal heirs entitled to inherit the estate assets. An unmarried person without children who dies without a will leaves their entire estate first to their parents if they are alive, or if not, to their siblings if any, and so on. In your scenario, neither the fiance nor the "friend" factors into this equation, and neither has any legal right to inherit or take estate assets. However, if the sole heirs of the decedent are his parents, then the dog belongs to them, and if they choose to give the dog to your sister, then that is a legal transfer of ownership, and the dog now belongs legally to your sister. There is no "time" period that has any bearing, just the legal effect of who has legal right to the assets of the deceased person's estate. The friend of the fiance has no legal right or standing to take the dog or sue your sister to deliver the dog. Your fiance may want to obtain something in writing, like a letter, email or other note, from the parents confirming they gave the dog to her.

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