ROCKLAND, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld Thursday a Knox County Probate Court ruling that a Denmark man improperly spent $271,000 of his mother’s money before and after her death in 2010.
The attorney for his siblings — who had challenged their older brother’s handling of their mother’s finances — said it is uncertain whether the money can be collected.
“There are two parts in a lawsuit,” said attorney Stephen Hanscom of Rockland, who represented the estate of Mary E. Hiller. “The first is getting a judgment. The second is collecting. The second part is a lot harder than the first.”
The probate court ordered Hiller’s son Paul A. Ligor Jr. of Denmark to repay the estate $271,000.
When reached by phone Friday, Ligor said he was unaware of the ruling by the high court and that he denies the allegations.
“The claims were false and they were not substantiated by the evidence,” Ligor said.
He said he does not know what his next step will be.
Ligor’s attorney, Frank Chowdry of Portland, was out of the office on Friday and unavailable for comment.
Hiller lived in Rockport and died in May 2010 at the age of 73. Sixteen months before her death, she gave power of attorney to Ligor. He was appointed personal representative of her estate in July 2010. In December 2010, three of his siblings filed petitions with the probate court to remove him as personal representative after they said he failed to provide them with satisfactory answers about what happened to her finances.
After hearings in probate court — that were delayed for several months when Ligor filed for bankruptcy — Knox County Probate Judge Carol Emery ruled in January 2013 that Ligor had solicited the power of attorney from his mother in January 2009 when she was not of sound mind and was easily influenced due to her physical and mental health. Hiller was suffering from cancer, according to court records.
Ligor then added his name as joint owner of his mother’s financial accounts. In March 2009, he used his mother’s money to open an account with Scottrade, an online discount stock broker.
Judge Emery also found that Ligor paid himself and his wife $173,710 as caregivers for Hiller from March 2009 until her death even though she was mainly in hospitals and other health care facilities during that time.
In addition, the judge determined that Ligor induced his mother in January 2009 to write a check for $45,000 to his company, World Capital Management. At the time she was hospitalized at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Ligor used $15,000 of his mother’s money to purchase a car that he put in both their names even though she was not driving and did not drive again, the probate judge found.
And the judge concluded that Ligor spent about $11,000 on groceries, tires, and household items that did not benefit his mother since she was not home during the period of the purchases.
And finally the court ruled that Ligor paid himself and his wife another $26,000 as caregivers after Hiller’s death.
Ligor appealed the probate ruling to the state high court which issued its decision Thursday.
Ligor filed for bankruptcy in federal court in September 2011. Ligor, who stated in bankruptcy papers that he ran a stock brokerage, listed his liabilities at between $1 million and $10 million.