Howard County Register of Wills
Posted by David Keelan on Saturday, October 28, 2006
This office is among the most respected of the Register of Wills offices in the State of Maryland because Kay Hartleb has made it that way.
Mr. Lawrence Blickman has stated that he wants to make it a more visible office and bring it out of the dark corners of the court house where it has been “tucked away”. I don’t know if that is allegorical or literal. The office is located just inside the security check point, and is well lit, very visible, and is well appointed. It must be allegorical.
Mr. Blickman recently moved to Howard County, registered to run for this office at the last possible moment, and while registering to run he inquired as to the salary the position pays. The clerk called Kay Hartleb in order to answer Mr. Blickman’s inquiry. Kay is a lady and replied in the fashion that a lady would. Mr. Blickman’s question was crass and to allow the clerk to call Kay Hartleb in order to learn how much the position paid was beyond crass.
Mr. Blickman has every right to run for the office. He has not attacked Kay. By all accounts he has run a clean campaign – despite some illegally placed signs which almost every candidate is guilty of more out of ignorance than intention. Mr. Blickman is however trying to portray the office as behind in technology and out of touch with the general public. A letter in the most recent issue of the Howard County Times states:
The register of wills is responsible for appointing personal representatives to administer the decedent’s estate and for overseeing the proper and timely administration of these proceedings. The registrar also assists and advises the public in the preparation of all required documents and other related functions.
I find it ironic that the writer of the letter finds that the office is so out of touch with the general public yet finds the Register of Wills web site so accessible that it lifts entire phrases from the office’s home page.
The Register of Wills is responsible for appointing personal representatives to administer decedents’ estates and for overseeing the proper and timely administration of these proceedings. We also perform the following duties: assist and advise the public in the preparation of all required forms;
Comments from people who have to use this office are glowing.
Without hesitation, Kay Hartleb should be re-elected as Register of Wills for Howard County. She has served as Register of Wills for twenty years with compassion and expertise. Having practiced law in Howard County for over thirty years, I can state, unequivocally, that there is no other government office which is more competent or more user friendly than Kay Hartleb’s.
Kay Hartleb is the only real choice to serve as Howard County’s Register of Wills. The Register of Wills plays a very important role in our community. This person must be able to apply very complicated laws related to property ownership, death taxes, laws and creditor’s rights in an emotional environment involving real people. Kay Hartleb has proven year in and year out that she is more than capable to meet this challenge.
As an attorney who handles numerous probate matters throughout central Maryland, I am keenly aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each Register of Wills office in Howard County and the surrounding counties. Ms. Hartleb stands far above all the others for having a friendly, courteous, helpful and efficient office.
If competence should be rewarded, then Ms. Hartleb should be especially rewarded since her knowledge and managerial expertise have turned her office into one of the most effective and acknowledged offices in Maryland. The people that need the services of this office know where to find this office and avail themselves of the services. Those who use the office on a regular basis have nothing but praise for Kay Hartleb and the efficiency in which the office operates.
Here is an excerpt from an article about how Kay Hartleb had a century’s worth of data digitized without cost to taxpayers – who can hold a light to that?
A Century of Data
…the Register of Wills is a tiny little office that has to do a very big job. When anyone in Howard County dies, whether they have three thousand dollars or three million dollars, their assets must be settled through the Register.
The office has records dating back to the 1890s and only five employees to handle it all. Before 1997, they didn’t even have a computer.
In recent years, they were faced with overflowing cabinets. Space was becoming a rare commodity. And anyone who needed information before ’97 had to find it the old fashioned way, sifting through paper files.
The office desperately needed to go digital, but with such a small staff, the task was next to impossible.
Starting last March, a partnership between the Sheriff’s office and the Register changed all that. With the help of sixty-some juvenile offenders and over 2,000 hours of community service, every last one of the old records was put into the computer.
A century worth of data, over 11,000 case files, went from dusty cabinets to easily accessible disk space. And they did it all in just one year.
The system is much better now for the public. This was a very ambitious project, and it didn’t cost the taxpayers anything,” said Kay Hartleb, who heads up the Register of Wills.
The rest of the article is here
Mr. Blickman has to run a campaign. He has to try to find something to resonate with voters. There are no scandals, no incompetence, no unhappy constituents, and nothing but praise for the office, for Kay, and for the staff. Every public safety employee in the County (that lives in the County I should say) understands the function of this office and its importance.
So he says Kay needs to raise the office’s profile? Why? He doesn’t explain why? The office doesn’t engage in PR work. It engages in the serious work of helping people through a tragic and difficult time in their family. While Mr. Blickman is out promoting the office’s profile who is going to run the office? He sounds like he is going to go out and drum up some business.
I think Freemarket told us that his campaign slogan is, “Where their is a will there is a way?” I still don’t understand what that means.
I do not believe Mr. Blickman understands the office, its role, or its function. When presented the opportunity to conduct a Comcast on Demand interview he refused to do so and that makes me suspicious. That is a valuable campaign tool to get in front of Comcast customers with your message for FREE. I suspect he didn’t feel as though he could present a compelling case for his election.
When registering to run for the office he selected it like it was a menu item and he had to ask the waiter what was the market price for lobster that day. I personally think Mr. Blickman is more interested in a job than being the Register of Wills. If he wants the job that badly he should get a job there. Learn how the office is run and then run for the office. Kay isn’t going to run for re-election forever.
As well intentioned as the letter writers are that are supporting Mr. Blickman’s campaign I think they are misguided and uninformed about the importance of keeping an experienced, proven, respected and honest manager in the role of Howard County Register of Wills.