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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 101981
Experience:  Fully licensed attorney in Texas in private practice.
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My mother died 3 years ago. My sister has my mothers dog,

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My mother died 3 years ago. My sister has my mother's dog, an elderly West Highland terrier. My sister is claiming the dog is an asset of the estate, and is trying to collect the amount my sister has spent on the dog since my mother's death, from the balance of my mother's estate prior to distributing the balance of the estate to my mother's heirs (myself, my brother and my two sisters). My mother had no outstanding debts related to the dog, and the dog is not mentioned in her will. Is the dog an asset of the estate ?
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am sorry for your situation. Can you please tell me who the executor of the estate is?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The executrix is the sister that has the dog

Thank you, C.

There simply is not statute in Maryland Rules of Procedure, Title 6 or the Annotated Code of Maryland - Estates and Trusts Article (which jointly govern probate) that states whether or not an animal is part of the estate.

An animal is property. An an executor is charged with upkeep of the property for the estate. However, the upkeep expenses have to be reasonable and are determined on a case by case basis.

The Judge would determine if the amount is to be approves based on:
1) Who is getting the dog in the end,
2) The reasonableness of the bills, and
3) Whether or not the mother spent such an amount on the dog.

As such, someone in your situation can file an objection with the Court and have the Judge decide on a case by case basis. It is at the Court's sole discretion here. So the question becomes not whether "the dog an asset of the estate," but, "did the Executor use reasonable restraint and proper fiduciary decision-making in upkeep of this item (i.e. the dog)?"

This, only the Judge can answer, on a case by case basis.

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