Schuylkill County Register of Wills Theresa Santai Gaffney, returned from attending the 85th annual convention of the Rgisters of Wills and Orphans Court Association of Pennsylvania which was held last week at the Sinking Springs Resort in Summerset County. She was appoined to serve on the Ways and Means Committee.

She reported many topics pertaining to the services delivered by her office located in the courthouse in Pottsville. She was one of 10 newly elected registors of wills who attended and 44 register of wills out of 67 attended.

Her office, with a majority of register of wills offices, are dual offices which include the Orphans Court Division. In some counties the two offices have been separated with each having an elected official. Gaffney was elected last November and is in her first term.

There was a discussion pertaining to filling of wills. They have to be dated, signed by the testator, and two witnesses. A testator's handwritten will is acceptable.

Gaffney reported there was a discussion on the newly amendment adopted by the state house and senate and signed into law by the governor pertainng to inheritance tax on family farms.

The new law, signed on June 30 by Govenor Tom Corbett, excludes family farm properties from the reach of the inheritance tax which had been handled by register of wills offices. It had been a tax of 4.5 percent on property left to children and 12 percent on property left to siblings.

The law pertains to family owned farms which provide self-employed income. Exempted from tax are farms left to chilldren and brothers and sisters and the farm must remain a farm for seven years which has been inherited to avoid the tax.

A district attorney from Fayette County spoke on exploitation and abuse of the elderly and an FBi agent addressed the actions of extremists in the country.

The law on marriage licenses did not change and marriage licenses are not allowed to be issued for common law marriages or same sex marriages.

Gaffney reported the county has the lowest fee for marriage licenses, $35, and that many couples from other counties obtain their licenses in Schuylkill County.