IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF: M.D., A Person in Need of a Full Guardian.
Submitted on Briefs: November 16, 2016 Decided: February 7,
FROM: District Court of the Fifteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Sheridan, Cause No. DG-2015-3 Honorable
David Cybulski, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Garth H. Sjue, Lisa Marie Six, Crowley Fleck,
PLLP, Williston, North Dakota
Appellee: Loren J. O'Toole, II, O'Toole Law Firm,
Michael E Wheat, Justice
Robert Domonoske (Robert) appeals from the order of the
Montana Fifteenth Judicial District Court, Sheridan County,
appointing his brother, Lloyd Domonoske (Lloyd), as guardian
for their mother, M.D., an incapacitated person. We affirm.
We restate the issue on appeal as follows:
Did the District Court err in appointing Lloyd, rather
than Robert, as full guardian for M.D.?
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
M.D. is a seventy-six-year-old woman who suffers from
Alzheimer's disease and dementia. She was married to
Kenneth Domonoske (Kenneth) until his death in 2015 and they
have four adult sons: Lloyd, Robert, Brad, and Doug. Kenneth
and M.D. have owned a family farm outside of Plentywood,
Montana, since 1958. Prior to his father's death, Lloyd,
who also lives in Plentywood, cared for both of his parents,
taking them to doctor's appointments, cooking their
meals, picking up their prescriptions, and helping with all
aspects of their personal care.
Lloyd has also taken an active role in maintaining the family
farm. Kenneth and M.D. previously struggled to keep the farm
afloat, filing for bankruptcy twice. Both Lloyd and his
brother Brad expended personal funds to keep the farm
operating and, since 2000, Lloyd has helped to work the farm.
Lloyd also co-signed a loan with his parents to refinance the
debt his parents had incurred on the property. In 2009,
Kenneth and M.D. set up a $21, 544.10 annual cash lease with
Lloyd for 742.8 tillable acres on the farm. The lease payment
Lloyd makes to M.D. is used to pay the farm loan.
Additionally, Lloyd, Kenneth, and M.D. have always each owned
a few head of cattle and Lloyd has cared for all the cattle
on the farm.
On October 21, 2015, just before Kenneth's death, Lloyd
filed a Petition for Appointment of Full Guardian, requesting
that he be appointed guardian of M.D. due to her inability to
write checks and manage her own affairs. Shortly after his
father's death, Lloyd moved to the family farm to take
care of M.D.'s personal needs. Lloyd also manages the
benefits she is entitled to receive from the Social Security
Administration and the Department of Defense. Initially,
Robert, Brad, and Doug signed consents for Lloyd to serve as
M.D's guardian. After the death of their father, Robert
and Doug revoked their consents and opposed Lloyd's
In April 2016, Lloyd placed M.D. in the Sheridan Memorial
Nursing Home so he could dedicate more time to the calving
and farming operations. The nursing home is one block away
from Lloyd's house and both he and his wife Patti
Domonoske visit M.D. on a daily basis. On April 12, 2016, the
District Court held a hearing, taking testimony and receiving
exhibits on the petition. Brad testified in support of
Lloyd's petition, in part based upon a recent trip he
made to visit M.D. in the nursing home. He ...