If you have a will upon your death, your will must be “probated.” That is, a filing must be made with a probate court and the court, more particularly a judge will oversee the administration of your estate. An executor will be chosen to carry out the financial issues and dispositional wishes outlined in your will.
If you die without a will, a similar process (referred to as intestacy) will occur.
There are numerous types of probate paths in New Hampshire and Vermont…
Waiver of Estate Administration (NH RSA 553:32)
This means there is no bond, no inventory, and no accounting. In short, your estate does not need to go through a full probate administration. The estate can be closed in six months upon the filing of an affidavit. There is no need to acquire permission from a court to sell real estate, which accounts for most people’s largest assets.
Summary Administration (NH RSA 553:33)
This is available when all beneficiaries are in agreement, while an inventory is required, an accounting is not and is a short form administration for people looking for a simplified way to close out an estate.
Full Administration (NH RSA 554)
This is the battlefield administration for situations in which there are disagreements among heirs’ challenges to the appointment of executors, challenges to distributions, and/or questioning of the valuation of an estate asset. The estate needs to be open for at least a year and both an inventory and annual accounting is required. There is heavy interaction with the court, motions, mediation, and discovery, as well as active litigation.
This occurs when an estate is opened in another state (i.e. Massachusetts or Arizona) but also involves assets of the decedent in New Hampshire.