Where there is a will, Howard’s Macfarlane finds a way
By Amanda Yeager

Earlier this month, incumbent Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane announced his intention to run for re-election in 2014. Which begs an important question: What exactly does a register of wills do?

As might be inferred from his title, Macfarlane is an attorney who works with wills. More specifically, he helps to guide county residents who have lost a loved one through the process of distributing the deceased’s property based on stipulations in their will.

Macfarlane and his staff of seven help family members fill out all the forms required in the probate process.

They also try to lighten the load of grieving clients. “I think most importantly we really try to make sure that everyone who comes here feels that they are being cared for,” Macfarlane said, “and that what can seem like a very complicated and overwhelming process is actually very manageable.”

Macfarlane, 30, of North Laurel, was elected in 2010, defeating six-term Republican incumbent Kay K. Hartlieb by 250 votes.

He is the first openly gay elected official in Howard County. Macfarlane said one of his proudest moments on the job so far was when the Maryland legislature approved the marriage equality act.

“After being elected, I made sure to go to [Annapolis] to talk about the unfairness that gay and lesbian couples go through in the probate process,” he said.

Other reforms he has lobbied for include increasing allowances for family and funeral expenses before distributing the estate and paying off creditors.

No other candidates have filed yet for the register of wills position.