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Kent County Register of Wills

The Kent County Register of Wills Office records wills after death and other documents pertaining to estate matters in Kent County, Delaware. The Office is responsible for overseeing the appointments of personal representatives and for administering estate proceedings. This office is also held accountable for making sure that the estate is in compliance with the Delaware law and Kent County policies. All estate matters are maintained as permanent records. The Kent County Register of Wills is elected to a four-year term in the "on-years" when the Delaware governor and U.S. President are up for election.

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    Harold K Brode **

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    John P Kelly III

Biographical Information

What motivates you to seek or continue in this office?

What are your qualifications for office, and what differentiates you from the other candidate(s)?

How has the Register of Wills office responded to the challenges of COVID-19 this year? Do you foresee any permanent operational changes in response to this public health crisis?

Would you support a move to make Register of Wills an appointive position, or do you believe it should remain an elected office?

Last edit date: published 10/1/2020
Phone: (302) 228-1313
Age 73
Education Graduate of Harrington High School Class of 1965; Graduate of the Delaware State Police Academy, May 1970.
Work Experience Schmittinger & Rodriguez Law Firm - 1989 - Present - Investigator; Delaware State Police - 1969-1989 - Retired at rank of Sergeant; United States Postal Service - 1966-1969
Community Involvement Asbury United Methodist Church, Member; Harrington Fire Company, One of only four members to serve as Fire Chief, President and Ambulance Captain. Member for over 56 years.; Temple Lodge No. 9 A.F. & A.M., Member; Delaware State Fair, Board of Directors; Harrington Moose Lodge, Member
Additional Information Kent County Register of Wills - 2013 to Present; Kent County Levy Court Commissioner - 6th District - 2007 to 2010; City of Harrington City Council - 1979 to 1981
Throughout my career, I have always been involved in positions to help people. I see my role as Kent County Register of Wills to help people through one of the most difficult times in their lives. Our office is staffed by caring, thoughtful individuals who work with families during this difficult period in hopes that the professionalism exhibited makes their day a little bit easier. I would like to see through the important work being done to get all documents on file in our office scanned into one database. This update will ensure that the public and law offices are able to more easily access these documents. I would like to continue to serve in this important role and help the people of Kent County in executing their final wishes.
I have served as Kent County Register of Wills for the past seven years. Prior to this service, I served on the Kent County Levy Court as a Commissioner from the 6th District. This combined experience from these two offices positions me to work across Kent County Government to serve the people of our County. My relationships with the Levy Court Commissioners, as well as the other Row Offices and Kent County staff allows me to work across all areas and departments to ensure we are providing the best services possible.
The COVID-19 crisis has deeply impacted all areas of our society. Our office is following all guidelines of the State of Delaware and CDC, as well as Kent County orders. We have instituted changes in the last few months to ensure that visits to our office remain as safe as possible for staff and constituents. We have begun mailing or e-mailing pre-appointment paperwork to individuals prior to their coming into the office. This cuts down on the amount of time they need to spend in the office, as well as making sure they have everything in order prior to the visit. This will be a permanent change. In addition, we require an appointment to ensure that we are keeping appropriate distancing guidelines. The office is following all orders regarding the wearing of masks, distancing and appropriate hand washing and sanitization procedures.
I believe the Register of Wills office should remain an elected office decided by the vote of the people in the General Election.
Last edit date: published 10/1/2020
Phone: (302) 270-8616
Website or social media link:
Age 62
Education -Widener University, Chester, Pa. Master of Science in Taxation. -University of Delaware, Newark, De. Major: Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Minor: Business Administration.
Work Experience - Enviro-Master Services of Delaware, CFO/Partner, January 2015 - Current. -First State CPAs, LLC, CPA/Partner, September 2010 to 2018. -Patterson & Kelly, P. A., CPA/Partner, January, 1997 to August 2010. -Kelly’s Furniture City, Inc., CFO/Partner. July 1998 to December 2006. -Patterson & Winnington, P. A., CPA, January, 1988 to 1996. -Delaware Foreign-Trade Zone Administrators Corporation, President, August 1989 to 2002. -Delaware Free Trade Zone - Division of B & B Development Co., Wilmington, De. Manager, January 1985 to August 1989. -Jones Apparel Group, Inc., Bristol, Pa. Manager, Letter of Credit and Foreign Accounts Payable Departments, August 1981 to January 1985.
Community Involvement -Rotary International, Dover Capitol City Club, 2007 – present; Dover Colonial Club charter member, 1989-2006; Board of Directors and International Chairman, 1992-1994. -Delaware Ballet, Treasurer 2009-2010; Board Member 2006 to 2010. -St. Thomas More Academy, Treasurer and Board Member, 1994-1999. -Holy Cross CYM, Coach, Spring and Fall Soccer/Basketball, 1997-2003. -Member of the City of Dover Board of Assessments Appeals Committee 2013-17. -Chairman of Dover's St. Patrick's Day Parade for 2016 & 2017.
Additional Information -Married to Laura for 35 years; children - JP & Kathryn; Grandchildren - Lilliana and Nicolai. -Born, raised, educated, and life long resident of Kent County -Recipient of the Solution of Hope Award from Mom's House of Dover, Inc. -Life member of the Delaware Veterans of World War II, Post 2
My mother, Cecilia, passed away 18 months ago. I am the eldest of her four children. My sister and I were designated executors. It was my duty to prepare the Register of Wills (ROW) documents. Historically, our CPA office prepared ROW documents for clients. Therefore, I had a working knowledge of the procedure. Nevertheless, I was dismayed to find the instructions missing key elements necessary to correctly and economically complete those documents. In addition, I was shocked to find the Kent County ROW office ‘Not’ to be paperless. The only County ROW office in Delaware without a paperless system is Kent County. This has had an adverse effect on staff and client (taxpayer) health. I want to Modernize the office, Simplify the process, and Educate our clients (our constituents).
I believe that the leadership sets the vision of an organization. I believe above all else, I have the ability to provide the leadership to move the Kent County Register of Wills office into the 21st Century. Moving the office to the 21st accomplishes: healthy Covid habits, reduced paper, reduced staff stress, increased productivity, happier taxpayers. At the start of my CPA career, I purchased our first computer, an IBM clone with an 8088 processor. The office began using an income tax preparation software, reducing calculation errors. We forged into electronic filing, resulting in clients receiving their refunds in record time! When the capability arrived to go paperless, we took advantage. It reduced our carbon footprint and made the process easier for our clients. I have the experience to accomplish moving the ROW office forward. If my opponent currently had this quality, I would not be running for office.
Looking at the Register of Wills website, I see no mention of requiring social distancing requirements. However, it should be noted there is no mention of social distancing on the Kent County website. We are entering a new normal. I believe if the current Registrar had lived up to his campaign promise in 2016 that his ‘top priority if re-elected is to work with the Wills office team in continuing the modernization of the office and records.’ (ref:, the citizens of Kent County utilizing the ROW office would feel safer. Remote filing and utilizing a paperless system would reduce interaction, reduce the threat of infection, and keep both the public and staff healthy. I think that implementation of this crucial system needs commitment from leadership. I think the commitment from the current Registrar has been lip service.
I believe the Register of Wills position should be moved from an elected position to a management position under the Kent County Administrator.