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From the Register of Wills Virginia Fifer

Desk of QUERY: What the Register of Wills does, and why I am the best candidate to accomplish this position?

The Register of Wills is established under the Constitution of the State of Maryland and elected every four years. The Register is responsible for managing an office and hiring and training staff to assist the public; setting and collecting Inheritance Taxes for estates and Trusts; appointing Personal Representatives of estates and overseeing proper and timely administration of proceedings. She also assists and advises the public with Maryland Law and forms pertaining to administering a decedent's estate and guardianships; audits Personal Representatives' and Guardians' Accounts; maintains and preserves permanent records of all proceedings; and serves as Clerk to Orphans' Court. The Register provides safekeeping for Wills of living persons and genealogy assistance. Each fiscal year she oversees the collection and use of millions of dollars of your tax money and, after paying office expenses, sends the balance to Maryland's General Fund. The Register deals mainly with the Comptroller, but occasionally must work with the Maryland Legislature in forming laws, and Attorney General.

The Honorable Virginia P. Fifer, Register of Wills for Frederick County for twenty years, has extensive experience in estate areas such as Estate and Trust Law, Real Estate Law, Guardianship Law, accounting, securities, insurance, assisting persons who have lost a loved one or friend, mediation of issues, and with managing an office. "It was through my experience working for a local estate attorney that I became interested in the position of Register of Wills and ran in 1990. I am proud to be the first and only woman to serve as Register for Frederick County since the beginning in 1744," Virginia stated.

"I am the best candidate for this position because of my twenty years' performing the duties of Register of Wills without a blemish on my record. I have proven that I can hire, train and manage an exceptional staff to assist and help thousands of persons each year, including attorneys from Frederick County, across the United States and other countries. People have little idea what valuable services the Register of Wills provides until they have to deal with an estate as Personal Representative or Interested Person. I have collected and managed millions of dollars each of my 20 years without a penny missing, funds misdirected, or misconduct, as verified by the seven Maryland State Legislative Audits performed on my office. I have worked with Comptrollers Louis Goldstein, Robert Swann, Donald Schaefer, and Attorney Generals Joseph Curran and Douglas Gansler, and been commended for my handling of the position."

Virginia is active in Maryland Register of Wills Association (President/ Treasurer/Secretary/Committees); wrote ROW Association's pamphlet "Administration of Estates in Maryland"; was Advisor for Attorney General's booklet "Administering Estates in Maryland," and Maryland State Bar's Estates/Trusts Section's publication, "Living Trusts: Get the facts!"; Member National Association of Probate Judges and Maryland Association of Judges of the Orphans' Court.

Register Fifer has volunteered her services to many area churches and organizations including: Frederick Church of the Brethren (Treasurer/Board/ Sunday School Teacher, member/organizer "The Seventy" under Pastor Merlin Garber); Walkersville Church of the Brethren (Treasurer); Johnsville Church of the Brethren (Pastor's wife, Secretary); Grossnickle Church of the Brethren; Developer/Editor/Publisher Rotary Club of Frederick's Membership Directory for many years; Rotary Paul Harris Fellow; Creator/Publisher Braddock Heights Fire Company's "Mountain Ear"; Women's Republican Club and Republican Club of Frederick County.

Born in northern Frederick County, Virginia has resided near Braddock Heights for thirty-five years. Her parents were the late Melvin and Leota Palmer and in-laws the late Dr. Jesse and Mary Fifer. She and her husband Jay just celebrated their forty-eighth anniversary. Their two daughters and families live in Frederick.

Mrs. Fifer states: "Prior to 1990, it was possible in Frederick County for someone without much experience to get elected and run the Register of Wills Office. However, in January 1991, Maryland's Estate Laws changed substantially. With Frederick County's recent growth, it's no longer possible for someone with little experience in Estates and Trusts Law to manage such an office without costing the public and attorneys time and money. As Register of Wills, you need to know not only laws pertaining to the Orphans' Court, but also how to handle the many legal matters associated with the Register of Wills Office. The one thing that determines success or failure of a business is management. This job requires hands-on managing, not someone who wears multiple hats. I am dedicated to this job. It's my life."

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