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ESTATE of JACOBS
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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT			Reporter of Decisions
Decision:	1998 ME 233
Docket:	Oxf-98-186	
Argued:	October 9, 1998	
Decided:	October 27, 1998


Panel:WATHEN, C.J., and CLIFFORD, RUDMAN, SAUFLEY, ALEXANDER, and CALKINS, JJ.




ESTATE OF DEREK M. JACOBS


SAUFLEY, J.

	[¶1]  Gloria B. Norcott appeals from an order of the Oxford County
Probate Court (Hanley, J.), finding that Jameson Boucher is the "child" of
her son Derek Jacobs, now deceased, for purposes of intestacy under the
Maine Probate Code.  Because we agree with the Probate Court that
Boucher's adoption by his mother's husband did not change his relationship
with Jacobs, his natural father, for purposes of intestacy pursuant to 18-A
M.R.S.A. § 2-109, we affirm.
	[¶2]  Jameson Boucher (named Jameson LaCroix at birth) was born in
1970 in New Hampshire to Suzanne LaCroix.  LaCroix, unmarried at that
time, later married Peter Boucher, who adopted Jameson just before his
second birthday.  The child's last name was accordingly changed from
LaCroix to Boucher under the adoption decree.  The decree was silent as to
the child's relationship to his natural father.  Indeed, it is not clear from the
record that the identity of Jameson Boucher's father was known at the time
of the adoption.  It is undisputed, however, that when Boucher became an
adult he established a relationship with Derek Jacobs before Jacobs's death
and that Jacobs is, in fact, Boucher's natural father.
	[¶3]  Derek Jacobs died intestate in Maine in early December 1995, at
the age of forty-three.  Norcott, his mother, filed a petition for her informal
appointment as personal representative of Jacobs's estate, and listed herself
and Robert Jacobs, Derek's father, as the decedent's only heirs.  Jameson
Boucher filed a competing petition for formal adjudication of intestacy,
identifying himself as Jacobs's son, and seeking his own appointment as
personal representative of the decedent estate.  The Probate Court held
that, pursuant to section 2-109 of the Probate Code, Jameson Boucher was
the "child" of the decedent, Derek Jacobs, for purposes of intestacy, and
therefore that he had priority of appointment as personal representative of
the decedent's estate.  Gloria Norcott appealed from this order.
	[¶4]  The sole question before the Court is whether, pursuant to 18-A
M.R.S.A. § 2-109(1), Jameson Boucher is the "child" of Derek Jacobs for
purposes of intestate inheritance, despite the absence of a provision in his
adoption decree providing for that status.{1}  Statutory interpretation is a
matter of law, and we review the trial court's decision de novo.  See
Guardianship of Zachary Z., 677 A.2d 550, 552 (Me. 1996).  When
interpreting a statute, we look first to its plain meaning and seek to give
effect to the intent of the Legislature, construing the statutory language to
avoid absurd, illogical, or inconsistent results.  See Nasberg v. City of
Augusta, 662 A.2d 227, 229 (Me. 1995).  In doing so, we consider "the
whole statutory scheme of which the section at issue forms a part so that a
harmonious result, presumably the intent of the Legislature, may be
achieved."  Davis v. Scott Paper Co., 507 A.2d 581, 583 (Me. 1986).
	[¶5]  Section 2-109(1) of the Maine Probate Code provides:
	An adopted person is the child of an adopting parent and
not of the natural parents except that an adopted child inherits
from the natural parents and their respective kin if the adoption
decree so provides, and except that adoption of a child by the
spouse of a natural parent has no effect on the relationship
between the child and either natural parent.  If a natural parent
wishes an adopted child to inherit from the natural parents and
their respective kin, the adoption decree must provide for that
status.
18-A M.R.S.A. § 2-109 (1998) (emphasis added).  The unambiguous language
at the end of the first sentence stating that the adoption of a child by the
spouse of a natural parent has no effect on the relationship between the
child and either parent, results in that child being the "child" of and
inheriting from both natural parents.  The adoption by a stepparent, in other
words, does not affect the relationship between the adopted person and
either of his natural parents for purposes of intestacy under the Probate
Code.  
	[¶6]  Norcott argues, however, that the second sentence, added by the
Legislature in 1993, modifies the first sentence so that a child adopted by a
stepparent may inherit through both natural parents only if the adoption
decree explicitly so provides.  If the second sentence is read to have the
effect urged by Norcott, much of the first sentence becomes meaningless
because its exception to the rule for adoptions by stepparents would be
swallowed by the requirement that the adoption decree explicitly address
the continued inheritance rights.  Such an interpretation would run directly
counter to our mandate to give effect to all portions of a statute where that
goal can be accomplished in a logical fashion.  If, in contrast, the second
sentence is read to provide simply that natural parents have the affirmative
right to assure that their child will inherit from them when that child is
adopted by someone other than a spouse of a natural parent, both sentences
are given meaning, and the result is neither illogical nor inconsistent. 
	[¶7]  Moreover, to the extent that the second sentence of section
2-109 is inconsistent with the first, any ambiguity is resolved by the
legislative history of the statute.  Before the 1993 amendment, it was clear
that "a child adopted by the new spouse of a natural parent . . . inherit[ed]
from both his natural parents and from his adoptive parent."  Maine Probate
Law Revision Commission, Report of the Commission's Study and
Recommendations Concerning Maine Probate Law 41 (1978).  When the
second sentence was added in 1993, the statement of fact accompanying a
Senate Amendment to the bill provided:  "This amendment retains current
inheritance rights of adopted children but clarifies that the adoptive parents
may not bar the wishes of the birth parents."  Comm. Amend. A to L.D. 942,
No. S-495 (116th Legis. 1993) (emphasis added).  Thus, it is clear that the
Legislature did not intend the amendment to change the meaning of the
existing provision, under which the adoption of a child by the spouse of a
natural parent did not affect the child's relationship with either of his
natural parents. 
	[¶8]  Accordingly, the Probate Court correctly concluded that Jameson
Boucher is the "child" of his natural father, Derek Jacobs, pursuant to
section 2-109 of the Maine Probate Code.  
	The entry is:
Judgment affirmed.
 
Attorneys for appellant: Ernest J. Babcock, Esq., (orally) George D. Guzzi, Esq. Freidman, Babcock & Gaythwaite P O Box 4726 Portland, ME 04112-4726 Attorneys for appellee: David. R. Hastings, III, Esq., (orally) Peter J. Malia, Jr., Esq. Hastings Law Office, P.A. P O Box 290 Fryeburg, ME 04037
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1} . The parties agree that section 2-109 of the Maine Probate Code governs the dispute at bar. "It is well settled that the status of the adopted child is fixed by the law of the adoption but the adopted child's rights of inheritance shall be determined by the law of the state of inheritance." New England Trust Co. v. Sanger, 151 Me. 295, 304 (1955). "The succession to and distribution of personal property is regulated . . . by the law of the domicil of the decedent, in force at the time of his death." In re Crowell's Estate, 124 Me. 71, 73 (1924). The decedent in this case, Derek Jacobs, was domiciled in Norway, Maine at the time of his death. Therefore, the Maine Probate Code is the applicable law for determining the status of Jameson Boucher.