Maine Alliance for Road Associations
The property owner died July 2020. His son has filed for ownership in Probate Court. He has been delinquent over 90 days for plowing fees. We are a statutory association so it's my understanding that we can't file in Small Claims.
Can we still proceed with sending him the 20 day Collection notice? And if so, do I address it to the deceased owner?
We had a similar situation in our road association. The father had been delinquent for over a year, but we had not filed a Notice of Claim. But the son expressed an intent to catch up, only was not able to until the estate cleared. We let him know that we were going to file a claim just to cover ourselves, but that we understood his situation and would work with him. Once the estate cleared, he paid all that was owed, and has continued to pay on time since then. I believe the initial notice should go to the executor of the estate, is one has been appointed. If not, I would think sending it to the son would be acceptable since he expects to acquire the lot. (Anyone else have other ideas on this?)
I believe a statutory association can still file in small claims court, but the Notice of Claim is an easier and less expensive option. If someone owes a great deal, small claims court would then be worthwhile.
The following is an excerpt from 23 MRSA 3102:
" If any owner, on requirement of the commissioner or board, neglects to furnish that owner's proportion of labor, materials or money, the same may be furnished by the other owners and recovered of the owner neglecting to pay in a civil action, together with costs of suit and reasonable attorney's fees. Such civil action may be brought in the name of and by the road association created pursuant to this subchapter and the decision to bring that civil action may be made by the commissioner or board or as otherwise provided for in the road association's bylaws. "
So yes, a statutory road association can still use small claims court if they so choose instead of a Notice of Claim.
There are 16 Maine Probate Courts; one for each county. I assume your 20-Day Notice and NOC would involve the Oxford County Probate Court which may be reached by telephone at: (207) 743-6671.
The Deputy Probate advised me to download Form DE-503, "Claim Against Estate" (Attached), fill out the name of the decedent complete with the claim, and submit the form and $25 to the Oxford County Register of Probate, 26 Western Ave #2, South Paris, ME 04281.
The Executor (Personal Representative) of the Estate will then be notified by Probate to answer the Claim Against Estate. I recommend calling the court at the number above with further questions.
Is the son the Executor? If so, I think this could get more complicated.
The Maine Alliance for Road Associations