First-term Lincoln County Judge of Probate William Avantaggio, D-Bremen, faces a reelection challenge from Meegan Burbank, I-Jefferson.
Probate courts have jurisdiction over such matters as estates, guardianships, adoptions, and name changes.
Lincoln County Judge of Probate William Avantaggio grew up in Damariscotta and graduated from Lincoln Academy. He earned a bachelor’s degree at St. Lawrence University in New York, then graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 1993.
After eight years at Howard & Bowie in Damariscotta, Avantaggio started his own law firm in 2002, based in Newcastle. He focuses on criminal law, family law, and general litigation.
In addition, he worked on probate court cases as a private attorney for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services for more than 10 years.
Avantaggio has served as judge of probate since 2016, when he won election in an uncontested race.
According to Avantaggio, many cases brought to probate court are handled by Register of Probate Catherine Moore. Most of the cases Avantaggio hears are about adoptions and name changes, as well as guardianships.
“I would say what I’m most proud of is handling those cases quickly and in a way I hope is fair and compassionate,” he said in an email.
The probate position only requires him to be at the court on Wednesdays, which allows him to continue running his private practice, but if an emergency request comes in, it takes priority.
“If someone’s elderly parent is at the hospital and unable to make decisions for him or herself, I put down whatever else I’m doing and address that,” he said.
If elected to another term, Avantaggio hopes to continue the level of service that his predecessor, Tom Berry, established.
“Our goal if you have to come to probate court is that you will be dealt with efficiently and professionally,” he said. “It’s court, of course, and some procedure is necessary to protect people’s rights, but I hope to continue approaching the job as one of service to the community, carried out well.”
Meegan Burbank practices law at Berry & Burbank in Boothbay, a practice she started with Tom Berry, who was Lincoln County’s probate judge from 1988-2016.
She practices probate, family, criminal, and juvenile law, civil litigation, real estate law, estate planning, and corporate law.
Burbank was born in Aroostook County and raised in Lincoln County, where she graduated from Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro. She attended William & Mary Law School in Virginia before moving back to Maine to practice law.
She has been an attorney in Lincoln County for 20 years and is committed to accepting court-appointed and pro bono cases.
“In my law practice, I think of my accomplishments in terms of my ability to protect each client’s rights and give my clients a voice that judges, as well as opposing counsel, listen to,” Burbank said in an email. She is proud of her advocacy for juveniles and people with mental health diagnoses.
If elected as probate judge, Burbank hopes to increase outreach and education for Lincoln County residents regarding guardianships and conservatorships for both adults and children.
“As current president of the Lincoln County Bar Association, I organized a legal education opportunity focusing on implementing changes in the new probate code,” she said. She wants to broaden the pool of attorneys willing to accept court-appointed cases and to offer more affordable access to mediators in probate court.
“My priority will always be to run an efficient, even-keeled, and fair courtroom, and to shorten the length of time cases take for final results,” she said.