John P. Kelly III

Candidate for the Kent County Register of Wills

Party Republican

Age 62

Occupation Retired Certified Public Accountant

Education Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting with Minor in Business Administration from the University of Delaware; Master’s Degree in Taxation from Widener University.

Family Wife Laura; children JP and Kathryn; grandchildren Lilliana and Nicolai.

Accolades Recipient of the Solution of Hope Award from Moms’ House of Dover

1. Why are you running for this office?

My mother passed last year, I was executor. I was shocked to find the ROW office was not paperless, had no availability to electronically file, and did not have a repository for Wills. I feel the information available to the average citizen to close an estate was incomplete. I want to make it easier to complete the process.

2. What is the biggest challenge facing the person who wins this seat?

Because of the new ‘normal’, the old way of doing things has changed. Online and Remote Interactions and Transactions must be implemented. The biggest challenge will be addressing these needs.

3. What Life experiences have prepared you for this position?

My 30 years’ experience as a Certified Public Accountant, where my tag line was ‘We Make Your life Less Taxing’. I have always made sure my clients felt comfortable. I plan the same for my constituents.

4. What is your top priority if you win?

Moving the office into the 21st Century by making the process more user-friendly, converting to a paperless office, and providing more in-depth instructions for our citizens during their very trying time.

There is no excuse for the Register of Wills (ROW) office to be dependent on a paper system. The office must be paperless.

The ROW is hurting the very constituents it should be helping. Nowhere in the instructions does it say that the decedent’s original documents will NOT be returned. It is mentioned at the final accounting meeting, when it is too late to make copies of the originals. But, the ROW will gladly charge $1 per copy ‘your’ documents. In fact, ROW has a Revenue line item in their budget!

There must be a paperless document system for deceased individuals’ estate documentation. In addition, provisions should be made to be able to perform an Estate Search.

Historically, our CPA office prepared ROW documents for clients. I therefore 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.  During my research, I found that the incumbent said 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: Needless to say that was a hollow campaign promise. 

Funds have been set aside for more than 8 years to carry out this process, but the office continues in the same antiquated ‘steam engine’ approach. 

I am simply asking that he live up to his statement that his ‘top priority’ during the 2016 election was to continue ‘the modernization of the office and records.’ 
I have a plan to rectify the current situation.