Upshur County officials clash over handling of will

Upshur County Administrator Willie Parker clashed at Thursday’s county commission meeting with the county clerk over the handling of his father’s will, saying he believes the situation has created a hostile work environment.

Parker’s father passed away in November 2012, leaving behind a handwritten, or holographic, will. County Clerk Debbie Thacker-Wilfong was asking for two people to verify that the signature and the handwriting were Parker’s father’s. Parker had initially balked at the idea, thinking state law did not require such a measure. But he agreed to the issue after discussing it with attorney Terry Reed.

Parker, however, said he was bothered by having Wilfong contact the county commission and law enforcement personnel about the matter, and he asked that it stop.

“This is causing problems and emotional distress,” he said. “This is not helping the situation. I don’t know how many other employers she has contacted (in other probate matters), but that’s clearly out of line. I don’t know if it is an attempt to create a hostile work environment.”

Reed, who accompanied Wilfong to the meeting, said it is the county clerk’s job to keep the county commissioners informed over probate matters because the commissioners have the final authority in those issues. The sheriff can also act as an estate’s administrator, should the commissioners deem it necessary.

“We can solve this whole problem by bringing in two witnesses that say it’s his handwriting and his signature,” Reed said. “We are taking a lot of time for something that should take five minutes. Have them sign an affidavit and let’s go about our business.

“But you just can’t bring in a piece of paper and say it’s grandpa’s will,” he added.”

Parker agreed to find two witnesses to verify the handwriting and signature, but added he was also bothered by Wilfong’s request that the mental capacity of Parker’s father be verified at the time he wrote the will.

Parker said that was not required by state laws, adding that “it’s up to the heirs and beneficiaries to challenge his state of mind.” Wilfong said she believes Parker was given the wrong forms from her office.