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Register of Wills candidates want to help people plan estates

October 20, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Kevin Miller decided to run for Register of Wills because he believes competition makes for a better solution.

"I find it hard to believe offices are uncontested," said Miller, a Republican.

John Bloyer, a Democrat who has held the position for 14 years, said that in the last two elections he ran unopposed.

The Register of Wills serves a four-year term and earns $81,000 a year.

The register's office opens more than 950 estates a year and takes in for safekeeping about 1,400 wills a year, according to Bloyer. The office also helps the public with estate procedures allowed by law and serves as clerks for the Orphans' Court of Washington County.

Miller, 64, admitted that he is a political "rookie," but said that his life experience has fully prepared him for serving as Register of Wills.

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"It's basically a matter of contesting an office that hadn't been contested in a long time," Miller said.

Growth happens when new people take office, he said.

Miller worked in marketing for 32 years, then earned a master's degree in education and worked as a public school teacher in Maryland for 10 years.

Miller, of Smithsburg, said he has been an unofficial counselor for his family and extended family in estate planning.

If elected, he would try to educate the public about matters of estate planning, especially because land values have skyrocketed in recent years, Miller said.

"I've had a very full life ... I will bring common sense to the operation," he said.

Bloyer, 59, said he enjoys working with the public and helping them get through the estate planning process.

A lifelong Washington County resident who now lives in Hagerstown, Bloyer has worked in the Register of Wills office for 23 years.

He started as a clerk, moving up to deputy register and eventually becoming Register in 1992.

Bloyer graduated from Hagerstown Community College's paralegal program in 1996 and served as president of the Maryland Register of Wills Association from 1997-98.

His experience in the job is the primary reason people should vote for him, he said.

And he doesn't mind facing an opponent.

"It's part of the job, part of the process," he said.

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