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How Does the Maine Probate Court Work?

Maine Probate Courts sit without a jury and have jurisdiction over specialized matters such as:

  • Estates of deceased and missing persons
  • Trusts (both formal and informal)
  • Adoptions
  • Legal name changes for adults and minors
  • Guardianship (For incapacitated adults and minor children)
  • Conservatorships
  • Protective proceedings
  • Other family matters

Maine Probate Courts have jurisdiction in equity, concurrent with the Superior Courts, in all cases and matters on the administration of the estates of deceased persons, wills, and trusts which are created by will or other written instrument.

There are two forms of proceedings in the Probate Court; probate and civil proceedings. A probate proceeding is a proceeding within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Probate Court. Probate proceedings may be informal or informal. An informal probate proceeding is a proceeding for the informal probate of a will or the informal appointment of a personal representative brought under the authority of Article III of the Probate Code. All other probate proceedings are categorized as formal probate proceedings. A civil proceeding is a proceeding within the concurrent jurisdiction of the Probate Court.

There are 16 Probate Courts and judges in Maine, one for each county. Judges are in the Probate Court typically serve part-time and serve four-year terms. The judges are elected by voters in partisan elections and begin their terms on the first day of January, after the general election. In cases of a mid-term vacancy, an interim judge may be appointed by the Governor. The appointee must be a member of the same political party as the judge who previously served on the court. A permanent replacement is elected at the next general election under Maine’s Constitution. Maine Probate judges or individuals seeking election to the office of a Probate judge may engage in any political activity that is lawful for a candidate for any other elected county office or an incumbent elected county official.

Probate Courts are under the county jurisdiction and not the state court system. On matters of law, decisions of the Probate Court may be appealed to the Maine Supreme Court.

All oaths taken by personal representatives, trustees, guardians, conservators, or any persons during the proceedings in a Probate Court, or to perpetuate the evidence of the publication of any order of notice, are administered by the judge, register of probate, or any notary public. In a proceeding involving guardianship, adoption, change of name, or another matter of custody or parental rights on a minor child, the presiding probate judge requires all parties to disclose whether they know of:

  • Any interim or final order in effect concerning custody or any parental rights related to the minor child;
  • Any custody or other parental rights proceeding concerning the minor child currently filed or pending before any Maine court or any court in another state, including the District Court; or
  • Any other related action currently filed or pending before any Maine court or any court in another state, including the District Court.

Suppose in a matter before the Probate Court related to a minor child, a probate judge discover a proceeding involving custody or other parental rights on the child is pending in the District Court. In that case, the probate judge will take appropriate action and facilitate a transfer of the matter to the District Court.

Persons interested in accessing case information for matters handled by Maine Probate Courts may find such online. The search tool on the Maine Probate website allows users to search by providing the case number or one of the last/business, first, or middle names. The tool provides a county filter option for users to narrow down the search results by selecting the county where the Probate Court is located. On the results page, select the button beside the case number field corresponding to the case in question to view the case information. To obtain actual court records, contact the respective court from the location below:

Androscoggin County Probate Court

2 Turner Street

#5, Auburn, ME 04210

Phone: (207) 782–2500

Fax: (207) 782–1135

Aroostook County Probate Court

26 Court Street

#103, Houlton, ME 04730

Phone: (207) 532–1502

Fax: (207) 532–1507

Cumberland County Probate Court

142 Federal Street

Portland, ME 04101

Phone: (207) 871–8382

Fax: (207) 791–2658

Franklin County Probate Court

140 Main Street

#6, Farmington, ME 04938

Phone: (207) 778–5888

Fax: (207) 778–5899

Hancock County Probate Court

50 State Street

#6, Ellsworth, ME 04605

Phone: (207) 667–8434

Fax: (207) 667–5316

Kennebec County Probate Court

95 State Street

Augusta, ME 04330

Phone: (207) 622–7558

Fax: (207) 621–1639

Knox County Probate Court

62 Union Street

Rockland, ME 04841

Phone: (207) 594–0427

Fax: (207) 594–0863

Lincoln County Probate Court

32 High Street

PO Box 249

Wiscasset, ME 04578

Phone: (207) 882–7392

Fax: (207) 882–4324

Oxford County Probate Court

26 Western Avenue

PO Box 179

South Paris, ME 04281

Phone: (207) 743–6671

Fax: (207) 743–4255

Penobscot County Probate Court

97 Hammond Street

Bangor, ME 04401

Phone: (207) 942–8769

Fax: (207) 561–6184

Piscataquis County Probate Court

159 E Main Street

#12, Dover-Foxcroft, ME 04426

Phone: (207) 564–2431

Fax: (207) 564–3022

Sagadahoc County Probate Court

752 High Street

Bath, ME 04530

Phone: (207) 443–8218

Fax: (207) 443–8217

Somerset County Probate Court

41 Court Street

Skowhegan, ME 04976

Phone: (207) 474–3322

Fax: (207) 858–4235

Waldo County Probate Court

39A Spring Street

PO Box 323

Belfast, ME 04915

Phone: (207) 338–2780

Fax: (207) 338–2360

Washington County Probate Court

85 Court Street

PO Box 297

Machias, ME 04654

Phone: (207) 255–6591

York County Probate Court

45 Kennebunk Road

Alfred, ME 04002

Phone: (207) 324–1577

Fax: (207) 324–0163

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