State court upholds case of son mishandling mother's estate

By Juliette Laaka | Jan 13, 2014

Rockland — A Jan. 9 decision by the Maine Supreme Court affirmed a Knox County Probate Judge's decision that a son drained his mother's estate while she was not of sound mind and used the money for his own benefit.

Paul A. Ligor Jr., appealed a judgement from the Knox County Probate Court that partially denied his motion for relief from a judgement that found he solicited a power of attorney when his mother, Mary E. Hiller, of Rockport was not of sound mind and then wrongfully depleted her assets before and after her death. Ligor had breached his fiduciary duty and was ordered to repay her estate, said court papers.

The probate court found that in 2009, Ligor added his name as a joint owner on Hiller's accounts, set up a Scot trade account funded solely with his mother's funds as a joint account with right of survivorship, and issued a check from Hiller's personal account to his company, World Capital Management for $45,000 while she was in the hospital at Maine Medical Center.

Ligor, the court found, used a substantial portion of the funds for his own personal benefit.

Ligor also spent $15,000 on a car that had the title in both his and his mother's names, although Hiller did not drive. He also used money to pay for groceries, tires, and household items while his mother was institutionalized, and further paid himself and his wife $173,710 for being caregivers from January 2009 until Hiller's death in May 2010. Hiller was either hospitalized or living in a care facility during this period, said court papers.

From April to August 2010, following Hiller's death, Ligor continued to pay himself and his wife for caregiving duties in the amount of $26,800.

In July 2010, Ligor applied for informal probate was appointed personal representative of Hiller's estate. In December 2010, three of Ligor's siblings filed multiple actions, including a petition to remove Ligor as personal representative and a complaint seeking a review of his conduct as their mother's agent.

The complaint asserts Ligor did not keep proper records, did not act in good faith, and did not preserve Hiller's estate, and did not act loyally for Hiller's benefit.

Ligor, the night before a probate hearing on the matter, filed for bankruptcy that stopped the proceeding against him.

In May 2012, the case was heard in Knox County, but Ligor did not attend. The court found Ligor owed his siblings $244,815 for the breaches of his fiduciary duty but denied the siblings' tort claims.

A few months later, Ligor filed a motion for relief from judgement said the judgement was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and requested the court vacate the judgement. The case was then transferred to the Maine Supreme Court for review.

Stephen Hansom, attorney for the three siblings, said the family will work very hard to recover the money owed to the estate and added the situation has been terribly difficult for the family.

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.

 

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Juliette Laaka
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.

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