I need to know when do I legally own property – when I have paid for it completely or when I take possession?

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I need to know when do I legally own property – when I have paid for it completely or when I take possession?

I purchased a whitetail doe at an auction. I paid 50% down at that time. The agreement is as follows – the seller will breed the doe free of charge and keep the doe on his farm until after it fawns. I have the choice of picking up the doe and offspring at that time or leaving them all on his farm and re-breeding the doe and picking up all animals the next year. At that time I will be responsible for paying the remaining 50% plus boarding fees for all animals. When do I legally own the deer and offspring?

Asked on December 11, 2011 under Business Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is, unfortunately, no general answer: it would be legal for you to own the deer immediately, while having an enforceable obligation to pay the balance; or it would be legal for you to only take title upon payment in full. Since it is legal either way, the answer depends on what was agreed to between you and the seller--what was your agreement or understanding? If it is not clear, or if you and the seller disagree, then try looking to industry practice, which will often be found to help clarify agreements--that is, what is the usual rule when someone buys an animal like a deer but pays over time, rather than all at once?


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