The probate process can be long and drawn-out, costing your survivors time as well as money. Fortunately, New Hampshire offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." In this case, a small estate is essentially a simple one: one with little potential for conflict. If the property you leave behind at your death qualifies, your loved ones can use a procedure called a "waiver of administration" to transfer your property more quickly and with less hassle.
When you use New Hampshire's simplified probate process, you can avoid these steps of regular probate:
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 553:32. This simplified probate process is more streamlined than full probate, saving time, probate fees, and potentially lawyer fees.
You can use waiver of administration in New Hampshire in certain situations where there's no conflict over who will serve as the administrator of the estate (also called "personal representative"). This is simply the person or people who will officially wrap up the estate.
Here are the circumstances that allow a waiver of administration:
In most states, simplified probate is based on the value of the estate being less than a certain amount. In New Hampshire, this process can be used regardless of the estate value but only in the simple situations set out above.
The process for a waiver of administration begins the same way as regular probate (also called "full administration"). You'll file a petition for estate administration with the local probate court in the county where the deceased person was living. You'll file the will, if there was one, and the death certificate.
Once the court approves the waiver of administration, there's a minimum waiting period of six months for creditors to file any claims. During these six months, the administrator can still collect the assets, pay debts, and distribute assets. But they can't close the estate until at least six months have passed.
To close the estate, the administrator will file a Waiver of Administration Statement. It must be filed between 6 and 12 months after the appointment of the administrator. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 553:32.) This document (sometimes also called an "affidavit of administration") states that:
If the estate doesn't qualify for waiver of administration, it might still be able to make a motion for summary administration under New Hampshire Revised Statutes § 553:33.
For help determining if an estate qualifies for the probate shortcut, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo) or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).
For more on New Hampshire estate planning issues, see our section on New Hampshire Estate Planning.