In re Estate of Fournier

902 A.2d 852 (2006)

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In re Estate of Fournier

Maine Supreme Judicial Court
902 A.2d 852 (2006)

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Facts

George Fournier gave two boxes of cash containing a total of $400,000 to his friends, Mr. and Mrs. Josephat Madore. Fournier asked the Madores to keep the cash in secret until his death and then to give the cash to his sister, Faustina Fogarty (plaintiff). Fournier explained to the Madores that he felt Fogarty had a greater need for the money than his other sister, Juanita Flanigan. Fournier died in 2005. Pursuant to Fournier’s will, Fogarty was appointed personal representative of his estate. Fogarty also met with the Madores after Fournier’s death, and the Madores gave her the $400,000. Fogarty then petitioned for a declaratory judgment that Fournier had created an oral trust for Fogarty's sole benefit. At a hearing, the Madores testified that Fournier instructed them to give the money to Fogarty after Fournier's death. Mr. Madore testified that Fournier said he wanted the money to go to Fogarty because she had a large family, his sister Juanita Flanigan was already wealthy, and he did not want his brother Curtis to receive the money. Mrs. Madore provided similar testimony. However, Flanigan’s daughter testified that Fournier had told her about the money and that Fournier had given Mr. Madore money to hold for Flanigan's daughter. Flanigan also testified that Fournier told her the Madores were holding the money for both Fogarty and Flanigan. The evidence also established that Fournier had given Fogarty $100,000 a few years after he gave the money to the Madores. The Aroostook County Probate Court denied Fogarty’s petition for a declaratory judgment and ordered that the $400,000 was part of Fournier's estate. The court found that Fournier demonstrated his intent for the $400,000 to be part of his estate by telling Flanigan’s daughter about the money. The court also said that Fournier's $100,000 payment to Fogarty addressed Fogarty's financial needs and made a trust for Fogarty's benefit less necessary. Fogarty appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Dana, J.)

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