Do I have right rights to my dog if its microchip is in another’s name?

Do I have right rights to my dog if its microchip is in another’s name?
Q:My girlfriend passed away recently. We have two dogs and one is in her name only. We agreed that if she paid the adoption fee I would buy everything for the dog and pay for the vet bills until I had paid the equivilant to adoption fee then everything would be split after. This was a verbal understanding between us.

Now her parents want to take the dog from me that I have raised for 3 years with my girlfriend. I have three years of statements proving I paid for nearly 90% of the food and vet bills also. Most of the vet bills are in my name along with the town liscense. The microchip is in her name as of now. Do they have any right to the dog?

A:I am very sorry for your loss. Normally property and animals of a decedent are distributed pursuant to the terms of a will or trust (if they exist) or pursuant to intestacy laws (where next of kin generally have rights to the property/animals of the decedent). However, if it can be demonstrated that an animal was given away by the decedent prior to death, will/trust provisions and intestacy laws are often inapplicable. If an animal is “co-owned,” a “co-owner” may (but not always) gain full “ownership” of the animal after the other “co-owner” dies. Proving “co-ownership” can sometimes be difficult but that depends on the facts of each situation. Consult with an attorney in your state for further information and next steps.
Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott