Estee spent his young adult life in Sacramento from 1857 to 1859. His business card read: M.M.Estee, Attorney and Counselor at Law, Office: Number 88 J Street, bet, Third and Fourth, (South Side,) Sacramento. He was elected in 1862 to the California State Assembly, one of five members representing the 16th District.
From 1863 to 1866 he was District Attorney for Sacramento County.
In 1873 he was reelected to the Assembly, one of 12 members representing the San Francisco portion of the 8th District, and he was Speaker of the Assembly from 1873 to 1874. Estee was nominated and ran twice as a Republican for Governor of California.
In his first run, Estee was defeated by Democrat George Stoneman in 1882. His second and final run in 1895 placed him against James Budd, who also defeated him.
Estee also had two failed elections to the United States. Senate.
On June 2, 1900 he was appointed the first United States Federal District Court judge for the Territory of Hawaii. Estee died October 27, 1903 in Honolulu, Hawaii, at age 69.