Two Republicans, one the incumbent, file for the office of register of wills

June 24, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Two Republican candidates have filed for the position of register of wills, meaning there will be a contested primary election for one of the county's most obscure offices.

Kay K. Hartleb, 62, is seeking her fourth term in office. Political newcomer Larry G. Fales, 48, is her challenger for the $61,000-a-year post.

Hartleb said she has improved the office by helping to draft changes that smooth the complicated process of dealing with the money, property and taxes of a deceased person.

For example, she said, she helped change the definition of a "small estate" -- one under $20,000 -- so that the unpaid portion of a mortgage can be subtracted from the property value, meaning more estates qualify for the category, which has fewer filing requirements.

"I want to be instrumental in helping to make further changes," Hartleb said. "The most important thing to me is the knowledge I have of the law as it pertains to estates. No one in Howard County can compete with my on-the-job experience."

Fales said he would focus on making the office pro-active, explaining to people the mechanics of planning for the distribution of their assets before they die.

Fales, a portfolio analyst for the state's Department of Housing and Community Development, said his background in financial matters and counseling would suit the position well.

"I think it's time for a little new leadership there," Fales said.

Fales, who initially planned to run as an independent, said the only money he will spend on the race will come from his pocket. The maximum? $1,000.

Both candidates are Ellicott City residents.

The register of wills oversees five employees in an office that administers estates, collecting taxes and ensuring proper distribution to heirs according to the deceased's will or state law. The office handled 740 filings last year.

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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