IN THE MATTER OF MARY E. BACHAND, SC 18827
Judicial District of Hartford
Probate; Jurisdiction; Whether Party had Standing to Request Accounting Under § 45a-175; Whether Probate Court may Order Accounting Without Showing of Cause. In September of 2005, Mary Bachand executed a durable power of attorney naming her husband as attorney in fact. The instrument named Lisa Charette as the successor attorney in fact and Cheryl Miller-Gray as the second successor attorney in fact. Charette began serving as attorney in fact in July of 2007, following the death of Bachand's husband. In April of 2008, Bachand moved from her home in Massachusetts to an assisted living facility in West Hartford because she was no longer capable of living independently and handling her own affairs due to Alzheimer's disease. Miller-Gray subsequently petitioned the West Hartford Probate Court to appoint an auditor to examine Bachand's finances. The probate court denied the request and, instead, ordered Charette to file an accounting. Charette appealed to the Superior Court, claiming that the West Hartford Probate Court lacked jurisdiction to order the accounting. Pursuant to General Statutes § 45a-98, probate courts have the power, "to the extent provided for in section 45a-175, [to] call . . . attorneys-in-fact . . . to account concerning the estates entrusted to their charge." Section 45a-175 provides, in part, that "an attorney-in-fact or the successor . . . may make application [for an accounting] to the court of probate for the district where the . . . grantor . . . resides . . . ." Charette argued that Bachand does not "reside" in West Hartford because, due to her illness, she was incapable of formulating the specific intent to establish a residence there. The trial court disagreed, finding that for purposes of § 45a-175, Bachand "resides" in West Hartford because that is the place where she lives and obtains the usual conditions of household life, i.e., where she sleeps, eats and receives medical care. The court noted that the term "residence" does not have the intent requirement of the term "domicile," which requires that the person reside in the place and intend to remain there. Charette also argued that Miller-Gray did not have standing to seek an accounting because § 45a-175 authorizes "an attorney-in-fact or the successor" to request an accounting, and, at the time that the power of attorney was executed, Miller-Gray was only the second successor attorney in fact. The trial court rejected the argument, finding that Miller-Gray had standing under the statute to request an accounting because she was the successor attorney in fact at the time that she made the request. The trial court also rejected Charette's argument that the probate court improperly ordered an accounting without a showing of cause. Charette challenges the trial court's decision in this appeal to the Supreme Court.