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Estate of Lake

Supreme Court of Maine

April 28, 2016

ESTATE OF STEVEN L. LAKE

Argued: March 3, 2016

Reporter of Decisions

On the briefs:

Anthony P. Shusta II, Esq., Madison, for appellant George Lake

Jennifer L. Eastman, Esq., and Jonathan P. Hunter, Esq., Rudman Winchell, Bangor, for appellee Ralph Bagley

At oral argument:

Anthony P. Shusta II, Esq., for appellant George Lake

Jonathan P. Hunter, Esq., for appellee Ralph Bagley

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

MEAD, J.

[¶1] George Lake was removed from the position of representative of the Estate of Steven L. Lake (the Estate) as a result of his failure to obtain a suitable bond. Following that removal, the Penobscot County Probate Court (R. Bradford, J.) awarded attorney fees to Ralph Bagley on the basis of Bagley's motion for contempt, which was based on George's alleged failure to comply with a court order to obtain a bond. George does not challenge his removal as personal representative, but contends that the court erred in proceeding on the motion for contempt because the motion did not satisfy the requirements of M.R. Civ. P. 66.[1]We agree and vacate the judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] In 2011, Steven L. Lake murdered his wife, Amy Lake, and their two minor children before taking his own life. Informal probate proceedings were commenced in 2011 and George Lake, Steven's father, was appointed as the personal representative of the Estate. On September 22, 2011, Ralph Bagley, the father of Amy Lake and a personal representative of the Estate of Amy Lake, filed a creditors' claim against the Estate, see 18-A M.R.S. §§ 3-801 to 3-818 (2015), anticipating a wrongful death action on behalf of the Estate of Amy Lake against the Estate.

[¶3] On May 29, 2012, Bagley filed a demand for bond, see 18-A M.R.S. § 3-605 (2015), seeking a bond in the amount of $150, 000 based on the contentions that George misused assets and that the potential award from the wrongful death action was likely to subsume the entire Estate. Well over a year after Bagley's demand, on February 28, 2014, George filed a petition to waive bond, see 18-A M.R.S. ยง 3-604 (2015), ...


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