Another Reason to Avoid Probate by Cindy Nelson, Elder Law Attorney in Cherokee County, Georgia

Judges are supposed to be impartial and not allow any personal issues to get in the way with the fair administration of justice. One probate judge in Maine illustrates that is not always what actually happens.

York County Probate Judge Robert M.A. Nadeau wanted a substantial raise. In Maine the salaries of elected probate judges are set by the local county commissioners. Judge Nadeau was working two days a week for an annual salary of $48,499.

He requested that he be given a three-day workweek for a salary of $90,000 or a four-day workweek for a salary of $120,000.

The county commission refused his request but did give him a raise to $54,206 and kept his schedule at two days per week.

This did not please the judge.

He almost immediately changed his schedule from working Wednesdays and Thursdays to working Mondays and Fridays so he could receive more paid holidays off. He also blocked out large portions of his time during those workdays for duties that did not include hearing cases.

The result was that probate cases in his court nearly ground to a halt.

At the same time, Judge Nadeau is facing possible disciplinary action by the state’s supreme court for other possible improper behavior. This is not the first time that Judge Nadeau has been charged with acting improperly.

You can read more about this in the Portland Press Herald’s original story “Judge denied big pay raise retaliated by causing backlog, York County officials say.”

This is obviously an extreme case. Most judges do not engage in this type of petty retaliation for not getting their way. However, it is important to note that all judges are human beings who do bring their own personal issues with them, even though they try to suppress those issues when ruling on a case before them.

Usually, you can avoid this problem for your estate by creating a plan that avoids probate entirely. Why take the risk that your estate will get the wrong judge when you can easily avoid it?

Consult an elder law attorney to learn more.

Reference: Portland Press Herald (Nov. 9, 2015) “Judge denied big pay raise retaliated by causing backlog, York County officials say.”

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