Voters often ask “What is the Register of Wills?” Read Byron’s answer.

When I tell people about my job, I’m usually presented with some form of the question “What is the Register of Wills?” People intuitively assume it has something to do with wills and the legal system, but let me explain this role more fully.

The Register of Wills is a constitutional elected office that oversees estate administration, also called “probate.” Every county in Maryland and Baltimore City has an elected Register of Wills. This office is sort of a specialty court that handles probate exclusively. What is probate? When someone dies and they have any assets titled in their name alone or without a beneficiary, those assets must go through probate. This is the legal process for distributing those assets. If the person died with a Last Will & Testament, their assets will be distributed according to the terms of the will. If the person died without a will, their assets will be distributed pursuant to Maryland’s “intestate” succession laws. The office of the Register of Wills helps families identify and account for these assets and oversees their proper distribution.

The role of Register of Wills itself is quite complex. The best way to describe it is as the director of a state government agency. I manage the office’s personnel, budget, finances, procurement, technology, and public outreach. I establish office policies and make final legal determinations when issues arise. I work with the Orphan’s Court to resolve disputes in contentious estates. I also work with my fellow Registers to adopt uniform procedures and lobby legislators to enact legislation that makes probate more efficient, fairer, and less expensive.

As an elected official, I have a sacred bond with the people of Howard County. I have a responsibility to serve people well and work hard every day to earn the honor and privilege of being Register of Wills. Having grown up here, I have a strong passion for local government and public service. I’m running for re-election to continue serving the people of Howard County with professionalism, efficiency, and compassion.

 

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