Three Democratic candidates are vying for Cumberland County probate judge, a position that oversees the busiest probate court in the state.

A probate judge oversees matters concerning the legitimacy of wills and estate distributions, adoptions, guardianships, conservators and name changes. County probate judges, which are considered part-time positions, are the only elected judgeships in Maine.

The three Democratic candidates facing off in Tuesday’s primary – Paul Aranson, Charles Kahill and Rubin Segal – all say they have a lot of experience with the kind of matters that come before the court because of their private law practices. There are no Republicans or independent candidates on the ballot.

Whoever wins the post will likely have to deal with changes adopted by the Legislature that affect probate law. Most of the changes concern tightening up the rules on what conservators are allowed to do. Conservators are appointed to oversee the affairs of someone with diminished capacity.

Aranson said few matters that come before the court are contested, but the new measures could change that.

“It will be a steep learning curve,” Aranson said. He noted that his experience in the law, which includes two terms as Cumberland County district attorney, gives him the background needed to tackle new approaches.

A University of Maine School of Law graduate, Aranson said he has the temperament to help people dealing with sometimes difficult family issues.

Kahill, too, cited his temperament and noted that he has a degree in counseling that would allow him to relate to people coming before the court.

“It’s important to me that these transition periods be as positive as possible,” he said.

Kahill said much of the paperwork the office handles is overseen by the register of probate, not the judge, and that he would instill a spirit of teamwork within the office to ensure a smooth operation. About a quarter of all Maine probate cases are handled by the Portland office.

Kahill holds a law degree from the University of California’s Hastings College of Law.

The third candidate for the post, Rubin Segal, also stressed that his personality fits the job.

The changes in state law, Segal said, will likely require even more tact from the bench. He said much of his private practice involved matters that are handled by the judge of probate, so he knows how to approach the issues with the interests of people in the forefront.

Segal, who holds a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law and a degree in psychology, said he wants to focus on providing dignity and respect for those who go before the probate judge.

The county’s current probate judge, Joseph Mazziotti, was selected for the position in 2004 after his predecessor resigned. He was re-elected in 2006, 2010 and 2014 with little or no opposition. Mazziotti has decided to retire.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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