BERLIN – Three Republicans are looking to gain their party’s nod in the Worcester County Register of Wills primary election on Tuesday.
The Register of Wills office handles administrative duties dealing with estates and heirs for Worcester County residents, including collecting inheritance tax. The office appoints representatives to ensure a deceased person’s property passes to others as outlined in legal paperwork. The register of wills also serves as the clerk to the Orphans’ Court.
Republicans Aaron Redden, Steven Sisk and Terri Westcott will square off in the primary Tuesday. Democrat Nicole Caudell, unopposed in the primary, awaits the winner of the primary in November.
Retiring Register of Wills Charlotte Cathell, serving the last year of her fifth term, announced this month in a press release who she would like to see succeed her. She said Westcott’s 18 years of experience as chief deputy in the Register of Wills office gives her a decided advantage.
“The old cliché – experience counts – is so appropriate when explaining how the Register of Will’s office operates,” Cathell said. “Terri has been my right hand for over 18 years and not only has a full understanding of the integral work in the opening and administrating an estate, she also has the compassion needed to help families in one of the most emotional times of their lives. This ability to empathetically help anyone who has lost a loved one is just as important as having the knowledge in assisting people with complying with Maryland law. … Terri will be able to step into the job of register from day one. She has the total understanding and experience in every phase of the operation of the Register’s office. This is why I wholeheartedly endorse Terri – she understands what must be done as well as how it should be done.”
The Dispatch presented a couple questions to the Republican primary candidates earlier this month. The responses to those questions follow. Redden did not return emails and a phone call to participate in this question and answer process.
Why should Worcester County residents vote for you for Register of Wills? Please give at least three specific reasons.
Sisk: Better educated with graduate level education, very experienced and a terrific work ethic. Lastly, there are a lot of veterans and those that support veterans around who appreciate the sacrifices veterans have made for the country and with over 30 years of government service, it would really nice to get an opportunity to continue in support of the community without being separated from family or being shot at.
Westcott: Voters should vote for me because I am the most qualified candidate. As the Chief Deputy Register of Wills for over 18 years, I possess the legal knowledge and experience to meet the requirements and obligations of running the office on a day-to-day basis. Serving on the MD Register of Wills Technical Committee for over 17 years, I have continuously worked with the members to update and improve the automated systems in all of the Maryland
Registers’ offices. But, most importantly, I have the hands-on understanding, patience and compassion to assist members of the public with opening and administering a loved one’s estate during an often emotional and over-whelming time.
By electing me the next register of wills, you will have someone who is responsive to the needs of the community, someone who is fiscally responsible and someone who will continue to move the office forward in automation. I am confident that with my extensive knowledge in all aspects of managing the office, and, most importantly, the over 18 years of hands-on experience, I am the best candidate to continue providing the same compassionate, professional and courteous service to the public.
If elected, what would be your first orders of business? What specifically would you look to change, maintain or address in the first few months of your term?
Sisk: As with any better operation, it would be advisable to review the actual situation before going in and making wholesale changes. Change for the sake of change is wasteful. I think there may be the opportunity to modernize the operation with new technology that will make better use of the latest internet tools and therefore provide improved service to clients/customers.
Westcott: One my first orders of business will be to join with the other Maryland registers in continuing the work on getting legislation passed in order to allow electronic filing of estates (e-filing). This has been on the Register of Wills Association’s agenda for some time, and I will work hard to help get this legislation passed. We will now be able to concentrate on this legislation after going through the process of have all of the MD Registers offices, including ours, being able to accept credit cards on-line and in the office.
Once the legislation is passed, I will work with the Maryland registers to enhance the current register of wills website by creating an easily interactive process for the public when completing and filing the documents needed to open an estate.
I will continue the current Register’s community outreach program that informs the citizens of Worcester County regarding the services the register of wills office provides, the importance of having a Last Will and Testament, suggesting steps you can take in estate planning and suggestions of what is important information for your family members to know after a person passes – all are items no one likes to discuss or deal with.
As far as any suggestion of change, the register of wills office does not set policy. The office is regulated by Maryland law through the Maryland Annotated Code and the Maryland Rules. We are required to follow these laws, rule and procedures set by the Maryland Judiciary and the Maryland General Assembly and no individual register can make any changes to them or deviate from them.
With my over 18 years’ experience as chief deputy register of wills, I will immediately be able to continue to provide the community with a knowledgeable and experienced successor to the current register and will continue to expand and improve the customer service we take such pride in through serving all the citizens of Worcester County.