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It would be difficult to overstate the impact of Gibber on Estate Administration on the development of probate law in the State of Maryland.  For 43 years, Allan J. Gibber (Neuberger, Quinn, Gielen, Rubin & Gibber, P.A.) and his popular treatise have been cited as persuasive authority by the Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals, while his analysis has been accepted as gospel by many circuit and orphans’ court judges. As comprehensive as it is authoritative, periodic revisions have guaranteed that Gibber on Estate Administration keeps pace with developments in this ever-changing area of the law. In keeping with this tradition, the MSBA is proud to announce its release of Gibber on Estate Administration (7th Ed., 2021), once again ensuring that the bench, bar, and registers of wills will have at their fingertips up-to-date scholarship and practical guidance for administering estates in Maryland.

As with prior editions, Allan and law partner Michaela C. Muffoletto begin with the ABCs of estate administration and take the practitioner all the way through the XYZs.  Their discussion begins with preliminary considerations in anticipation of death, providing practical advice for steps to be taken even before the time comes to wrap up a client’s affairs. Issues that inform decision-making surrounding life-sustaining treatment, living wills, advance directives, and medical powers of attorney are addressed, as are the myriad issues that arise immediately upon death, such as how to deal with the medical examiner, the requirements of the Maryland Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, who should sign the funeral bill and in what capacity, and how to pursue payment of burial insurance and federal death benefits.

As a look at the table of contents will reveal, the book’s 15 chapters contain step-by-step instructions for the entire probate process and include, inter alia, sections on how to establish death (with helpful hints regarding applications for death certificates under the 2019 amendments to Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. § 4-217); advice (and detailed checklists) for gathering necessary information; a roadmap and timeline for the steps to be taken to open and administer the estate; appointing (and removing) the personal representative; handling caveats; distinguishing probate and non-probate assets; payment of expenses and claims (including income, estate and inheritance taxes); accounting; distributions; and ultimately closing the estate. Topics requiring special consideration, such as issues regarding minors and procedures for small estates, modified administrations and appeals, are also covered in detail.  

Thoughtfully organized with the busy practitioner in mind, the book contains more than 900 carefully indexed and cross-referenced sections, providing ready access to answers for questions as they arise at any point in the probate process. The authors build on their four decades assembling the statutes, rules, judicial opinions, and opinions of the Attorney General relevant to estate administration, bringing them current to 2021. Their expert analysis and commentary has also been refreshed to reflect legislative changes and common law development since the last publication of this masterwork in 2017, and includes references to changes currently under consideration but not yet finalized.  Historical context is provided where necessary to fully appreciate current law, such as the 2019 change in the State’s spousal elective share calculation with the introduction of the augmented estate. The authors discuss questions that remain unanswered despite these developments, and where appropriate suggest how they might be answered in the future.  Every statement of the law and practical suggestion is accompanied by citations to governing authorities both in the text and accompanying footnotes, and in the exhaustive tables of authorities and cases.

The treatise also doubles as a forms library, containing several hundred sample forms, including scores of new and revised forms and tax tables promulgated by the courts, state and federal agencies, and under the Maryland Rules. These include virtually every form that might be filed with the court in connection with estate administration, as well as those required by state and federal agencies to accomplish tasks necessary to properly administer the estate, such as  those used to transfer title to a motor vehicle, or to obtain veterans’ benefits, the reissuance of savings bonds, and the payment of a tax refund due to a decedent.  More impressively, Gibber on Estate Administration enters its fifth decade as a compendium of privately generated forms and checklists used over many years by the authors and other experts in the field.  

In addition to an extensive discussion of the implications of the recent statutory amendments to the spousal elective share calculation, Gibber on Estate Administration explores other legislative and rule-making activity including, for example, the reinstatement of probate exemptions for motor vehicles and boats; new provisions regarding the waiver of fees where certain real property passes to someone already living on a property; amended rules to streamline the process for the receipt of checks payable to a closed estate; and a revised rule concerning notice requirements to trustees of revocable trusts.

The appellate courts have been equally active in recent years, prompting the authors to revise existing sections of the book and to add new ones. The authors discuss the Court of Appeals’ recognition of a cause of action for the intentional interference with an inheritance and a separate decision clarifying the effect of a subsequently filed caveat on judicial probate.  Other decisions that address the reasonableness of attorneys’ fees incurred at the behest of a special administrator, the powers of a special administrator, and the limitations period for the State to file a claim for Medicaid payments are discussed as well.  

Estates and trusts attorneys, orphans’ court judges, and registers of wills have come to trust and rely on Gibber on Estate Administration, making it a perennial best-seller among MSBA-published titles.  It is a required text for anyone who represents a beneficiary, a caveator, a claimant, or who might otherwise be in litigation with an estate.  You can order your copy of Gibber on Estate Administration (7th Ed., 2021) here.