How does probate work in New Hampshire?

After a person dies, the state supervises the administration of his or her estate in a process called probate. New Hampshire does not require every estate to go through probate.

Review the state’s probate rules to inform your estate plans and ensure your executor can carry out your wishes as intended.

Probate-exempt assets

Some assets avoid probate in New Hampshire. You can help streamline the probate process for your heirs by establishing:

  • Payable-on-death bank accounts with a designated beneficiary
  • Beneficiary designations for your investment and retirement accounts
  • Joint tenancy on assets you own along with someone else

If you own property with your spouse, he or she can take ownership of those items, such as the family home, without court supervision.

The probate process

When someone dies, the executor must file the will with the county where the deceased person lived within 30 days along with the petition for probate. The court will review the will and determine its validity before granting permission for the executor to settle the estate.

After receiving permission, called “Letters Testamentary” in New Hampshire, the executor has 90 days to file an inventory of estate assets with the court. He or she will pay any outstanding creditors and taxes of your estate before distributing property to your heirs according to your wishes.

Finally, the executor files a court petition to close the estate. If the estate remains pending after 12 months or longer, he or she must file an accounting of the assets with the court annually until closing the estate.