County register of wills tightens procedures

State says office failed to report five million-dollar estates to state

August 22, 2011|By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun

The Baltmore County Register of Wills has tightened up procedures in response to a state audit that found that during a three-year period it did not report all estates valued at greater than $1 million to the office of the state comptroller, as required by law.

The law is intended to help the comptroller to identify estates that should file a state tax return.

In a report released Monday, the state Office of Legislative Audits found that in five cases the county register counted the estate's probate assets only, failing to add these to non-probate assets to arrive at a gross value to report to the Comptroller.

Probate assets typically are property owned by the deceased person. Non-probate assets are those owned jointly by the deceased and others.

The five estates not reported were among 179 estates processed by the county office from January 2008 to February 2011, the period under review.

In a letter to auditor Bruce A. Myers, Register of Wills Grace G. Connolly said that the five estates have now been reported, the "process has been corrected" and the department's automated statistical report will be changed to include estates over $1 million.

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