What Is Probate and Where Do I Start?
The New Hampshire Circuit Court defines probate as, “the process of proving that a particular document is a valid will. The term “probate” also refers to the functions of the Circuit Court Probate Division in the appointment of an administrator and supervision over the settlement of an estate.”
When an individual (known as a “decedent”) passes away, whether with or without a Will (and/or a Trust), New Hampshire law requires that notification of the decedent’s death be provided to the Probate Division of the New Hampshire Circuit Court. Such notification is required in order to ensure that the decedent’s assets and debts are handled either in accordance with the decedent’s wishes, if they had a Will, or in accordance with New Hampshire law, in the absence of a Will.
In 2017, the Probate Division instituted the use of electronic filing which means that if you need to start a case in the Probate Division, you must do so online. This can be done on your own by either accessing the information on your own computer or at the Court. You can also meet with an attorney to assist you in this process.
A good place to start when it comes time to probate someone’s Estate is to either meet with an attorney or visit the court website. The New Hampshire Probate Division has created a number of Court forms in order to make the probate process more “user friendly.” The New Hampshire Circuit Court’s website contains a number of resources, including almost all of the forms an individual will need in order to initiate Estate proceedings. These forms can be found here.
There are different types of Estate administration that can be done in order to facilitate the handling of a decedent’s assets. However, nearly all Estates are opened by filing a Petition for Estate Administration. Within the Petition for Administration, you can then indicate that you are filing the matter as a Waiver of Full Administration, which is a more simplified version of probate. However, a Waiver of Full Administration is only available in certain circumstances such as when a spouse is the sole beneficiary named in in the decedent’s Will and the spouse has also petitioning to become as the administrator of the Estate.
Once you file the initial paperwork with the Court, you will then likely be required to complete an Inventory detailing the decedent’s assets at date of death, manage the assets and debts in the Estate, and carry out a number of different duties as the Estate administrator.
If at any point along the way, you begin to feel overwhelmed with the probate process, or simply have general questions, please feel free to contact us in downtown Nashua, NH at (603) 943-5647. We would be happy to schedule an appointment with one of our Estate administration Attorneys who will meet with you to answer your questions and outline the process for you so that you know what to expect when going through the probate process.