I’m a life long resident of Anne Arundel County, attended public schools, went to and graduated from AACC, U of B, U of B Law School, Juris Doctorate. I put myself through college doing data entry at McCormicks. I practiced law from 1982 to 2006, drafting wills, trusts, and settlement agreements, with the last five years as managing attorney. After running the Registers office for the last 12 years, I’m also proficient with MD and Federal HR law, Estates and Trusts, Real Property code, Domestic Law code, and the tax code of Maryland. I’m a member of the Crofton, Severna Park, Pasadena, and South County Chambers of Commerce. I sit on the Registers probate review, legislative audit, and automation committees.
When I took office in 2006, it was a paper-and-pencil office. Documents were not being scanned and there was a single flatbed scanner. There was a backlog of 2.5 million pages of microfiche and paper documents. There was no way to conduct business internally using the computer system. Training was by word of mouth. There was no website with relevant public information. All of this was unacceptable.
I made a plan. I live here, so I wanted to give the citizens the best possible ROW office.
I hired and trained a staff of the kindest, most compassionate and effective people in this county. In fact, their public and attorney satisfaction ratings are 99.29% and 95.50% respectively.
I put in email and telephone voicemail to instantaneously reply to constituent needs. A live person answers every call and every walk-in. I hate answering machines and lines – they frustrate people and are not good public service.
I ordered modern computer equipment and scanners for every desk. I hired competent IT staff to institute programs for better workflow. The intranet allows staff to train for the job, communicate, collaborate, perform work functions, manage dockets, manage their schedules, and access critical online resources for assisting the public.
I instituted a project to scan the entire backlog of 2.5 million pages of documents. Every single record from 1875 to present is available to the public. We scan new documents the moment they enter the office for immediate availability on our kiosks and online.
I participated in the paper reduction initiative to reduce our reliance on paper records. With my help, the MD legislature passed laws accepting the electronic record as the true copy of the record, allowing us to destroy paper after the estate closes.
I created and provided guides, publications, forms, and other public assistance for the Register of Wills website. This information can guide any normal person to download, fill out, and submit all necessary forms to open an estate. If they need assistance, my staff will assist them in person, on the phone, or via email.
I started accepting credit cards in 2014, piggy-backing on an existing contract negotiated by the Office of the Comptroller, the same ultra-secure system used to pay income tax.
I was the first jurisdiction to launch online copies in 2017. We serve every record from 1875 to present, in real-time. Having already instituted credit card payments, constituents can easily order documents online 24/7 in the comfort of their own home.
Through our committee associations, we have dramatically improved online access and security. Your records are available in their entirety, backed up daily in the cloud, and protected through layers of security. Office communication, whether voice or electronic, is encrypted using the latest standards.
All of these ideas, programs, and plans are all part of a larger plan. My goal is to get every part of the Register of Wills business fully online with the best e-filing system in the state. We have observed other e-filing systems, federal state and local, to take notes and learn from their mistakes. As a serving member on the ROW automation committee, and with my staff serving statewide in technology initiatives, all the internal changes and planning make this possible. These relationships and initiatives do not develop overnight. I’ve painstakingly worked towards this goal for 12 years, and I aim to finish and continuously improve.
The purpose is to make the office as accessible to the public as humanly possible. The staff and I serve the public the best way we know – through efficient use of technology, cost savings, and kindness. Kindness and efficiency never go out of style.