PROBATE COURTS AND DECEDENTS' ESTATES
ADMINISTRATORS AND THEIR APPOINTMENT
553:1 Administrator Defined.
The word administrator may include every person to whom the administration of an estate or the execution of a will may be granted.
Source. RS 158:1. CS 167:1. GS 176:1. GL 195:1. PS 188:1. PL 299:1. RL 352:1.
553:1-a Death Record Required.
No administrator of the estate of any deceased person shall be appointed until a certified copy of the death record of the decedent has been filed with the probate court, provided this requirement may be waived by the judge upon petition.
Source. 1995, 277:18. 1997, 325:20, eff. Aug. 22, 1997.
553:2 Right to Administer.
Administration of the estate of any person deceased shall be granted:
I. To the executor named in his will.
II. To the widow, husband or any of the next of kin, or to such suitable person as they or any of them may nominate.
III. To one of the devisees or creditors.
IV. To such other person as the judge may think proper.
Source. RS 158:2. CS 167:2. GS 176:2. GL 195:2. PS 188:2. 1919, 34:1. PL 299:2. RL 352:2.
No person shall be appointed to administer an estate until the several persons previously entitled thereto shall have either voluntarily renounced the trust in writing, or neglected, for thirty days after the decease of the person upon whose estate administration is to be granted, to apply for administration.
Source. RS 158:5. CS 167:5. GS 176:5. GL 195:5. PS 188:5. PL 299:3. RL 352:3.
553:4 Age, Etc.
No person not of full age, or deemed by the judge unsuitable, shall be appointed to administer an estate.
Source. RS 158:3. CS 167:3. GS 176:3. GL 195:3. PS 188:3. PL 299:4. RL 352:4.
No person not an inhabitant of this state shall be so appointed by reason of a right to such trust, unless other circumstances, in the opinion of the judge, render the same proper.
Source. RS 158:4. CS 167:4. GS 176:4. GL 195:4. PS 188:4. PL 299:5. RL 352:5.
553:6 Minor Executor.
If a minor, appointed executor, comes of age and requests it, administration on the estate not before administered shall be granted to him; and the administration before granted shall be revoked unless it was granted to a co-executor, in which case the minor shall be a joint executor.
Source. RS 158:6. CS 167:6. GS 176:6. GL 195:6. PS 188:6. PL 299:6. RL 352:6.
553:7 De Bonis Non.
I. If the administration on an estate becomes vacant by death, extinguishment, or revocation the probate court may grant administration on the estate not before administered to such person as the probate judge may think proper, having due regard to the rule prescribed in RSA 553:2.
II. If the administration on an estate under RSA 553:32 becomes vacant by death, extinguishment, or revocation, the probate court may, in its discretion, require any administrator de bonis non to furnish an inventory of the estate, bond, or an accounting for assets before the completion of the administration.
Source. RS 158:7. CS 167:7. GS 176:7. GL 195:7. PS 188:7. PL 299:7. RL 352:7. RSA 553:7. 1997, 45:2. 2001, 195:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2002.
553:8 Executor of Executor.
The executor of an executor shall not, in consequence thereof, become the executor of the first testator.
Source. RS 158:8. CS 167:8. GS 176:8. GL 195:8. PS 188:8. PL 299:8. RL 352:8.
If an executrix or administratrix marries, her husband shall not thereby become executor or administrator in her right; but she may continue to exercise the trust as before.
Source. RS 158:9. CS 167:9. GS 176:9. GL 195:9. PS 188:9. PL 299:9. RL 352:9.
553:10 Revocation of Administration for Cause.
If an executor or administrator, by reason of absence, or infirmity of body or mind, or by wasteful or fraudulent management in his trust, becomes unfit for the discharge thereof, or unsafe to be trusted therewith, the judge, upon due notice, may revoke the administration.
Source. RS 158:10. CS 167:10. GS 176:10. GL 195:10. PS 188:10. PL 299:10. RL 352:10.
553:11 Revocation of Administration by Consent.
The trust may be revoked under any circumstances, with the consent of the executor or administrator, when it shall appear to the judge to be proper.
Source. RS 158:11. CS 167:11. GS 176:11. GL 195:11. PS 188:11. PL 299:11. RL 352:11.
553:12 Resignation of Executor or Administrator.
Any executor or administrator may, upon his request, be allowed to resign his trust, whenever it appears to the judge to be proper to allow him to do so.
Source. 1903, 36:1. PL 299:12. RL 352:12.
553:12-a Nomination of Person to Represent Unborn or Unascertained Interests.
If a deceased person in his duly allowed will has nominated a spouse or lineal descendant, even though interested, to represent the interests of persons unborn or unascertained, the court, in the absence of good cause shown, shall comply with the expressed desire of the deceased with respect to such representation.
Source. 1965, 58:1, eff. June 13, 1965.
Bond of Administrator; Notice, Etc.
I. Except as provided in RSA 553:32, no person shall administer the estate of a person deceased until such person has given bond to the judge, with sufficient sureties, in such reasonable sum as the judge shall approve, or, in lieu of a bond, other forms of security acceptable to the judge, upon condition:
(a) To return to the judge a true and perfect inventory of the estate of the deceased, upon oath, within 90 days from the date of appointment.
(b) To administer the estate according to law.
(c) To render to the judge an account of administration, upon oath, within one year, and annually thereafter unless excused by the judge or as provided by law, until a final account is filed and allowed.
(d) To pay all taxes for which such person may be or become liable under RSA 87.
(e) To pay and deliver the rest and residue of the estate upon allowance of the final account or motion for summary administration which shall be found remaining to the residuary legatee or legatees under the will or distributee or distributees of the intestate estate.
(f) To deliver the certificate of appointment into the court of probate if a subsequent appointment is granted.
II. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I, when the estate has a gross value of $25,000 or less, only a personal bond without sureties will be required. In addition, in cases in which the department of health and human services is administering an estate pursuant to RSA 126-A:34, I(e), no bond shall be required.
III. In the discretion of the judge, the requirements for the giving of bond and sureties or other forms of security may be waived.
IV. The judge may at any time or upon motion of an administrator or beneficially interested person, require a further bond, with sufficient sureties, or reduce an existing bond, if the judge determines it is appropriate under the circumstances.
Source. RS 158:12. CS 167:12. GS 176:12. GL 195:12. PS 188:12. PL 299:13. RL 352:13. 1947, 264:1. RSA 553:13. 1955, 47:1. 1986, 34:1. 1987, 24:1, 2. 1988, 200:1, 2. 1994, 58:1, 2. 1995, 277:19. 2002, 232:11. 2005, 252:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006. 2013, 144:44, eff. July 1, 2013.
553:14 Repealed by 2005, 252:9, I, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.
553:15 Repealed by 2005, 252:9, II, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.
553:16 Publication of Notice of Appointment.
Upon appointment of an administrator, the clerk shall, within 15 days of such appointment, cause notice thereof to be published in accordance with the provisions of RSA 550:10. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no publication of notice shall be required when the estate has a gross value of $10,000 or less.
Source. RS 158:14. CS 167:14. GS 176:14. GL 195:14. PS 188:15. PL 299:16. RL 352:16. RSA 553:16. 1973, 215:3. 1993, 190:9. 1996, 199:1. 2005, 252:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2006. 2011, 88:20, eff. July 1, 2011.
553:17 Intermeddling, Etc.
If any person unlawfully intermeddles with, embezzles, alienates, wastes or destroys any of the personal estate of a deceased person he shall be liable to actions of the creditors and others aggrieved, as executor in his own wrong, to double the value of such estate.
Source. RS 158:15. CS 167:15. GS 176:15. GL 195:15. PS 188:16. PL 299:17. RL 352:17.
Administration of Estate of Person Presumed Dead
553:18 Administration of Estate of Person Presumed Dead.
I. The judge, following a hearing, may appoint an administrator of the estate of a person, with such limitations and powers as the judge deems appropriate:
(a) Presumed dead pursuant to RSA 553:19, I; or
(b) Who has left his or her home and has not been heard of or from directly or indirectly for 6 months and whom the judge believes to be dead.
II. Prior to appointment of an administrator of the estate of a person not heard of, notice shall be published in a newspaper with statewide distribution which is also published on the Internet and one printed in the county in which the person had last lived for one year. Such notice shall be published at least once per week for 4 consecutive weeks. Such other notice shall be given to relatives as the judge may order. The notice shall give the name, age, and such other characteristics and descriptions as shall identify the person, and shall call for information concerning him or her.
Source. 1872, 22:1. GL 195:16. PS 188:17. PL 299:18. RL 352:18. RSA 553:18. 1992, 284:62. 2005, 280:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.
553:19 Presumption of Death.
In the absence of a death certificate, the fact of death may be established after an evidentiary hearing if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence:
I. That the person is presumed to have been killed as a result of some catastrophic event but his or her body could not be recovered; or
II. That the person has been absent for a continuous period of 4 years, during which time he or she has not been heard of or from, and whose absence is not satisfactorily explained after diligent search or inquiry. The individual's death is presumed to have occurred at the end of the period unless there is sufficient evidence for determining that death occurred earlier.
Source. 1872, 22:2, 3. GL 195:17. PS 188:18. PL 299:19. RL 352:19. 2005, 280:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.
Whenever, by reason of the trial of factual issues in a proceeding involving the validity of a will, or by reason of an appeal from the appointment of an administrator on questions of law, or from any other cause, there is delay in determining the final grant of administration upon the estate of a decedent, a special administrator may be appointed, if the interests of the estate require it.
Source. 1877, 68:1. GL 195:18. PS 188:19. PL 299:20. RL 352:20. RSA 553:20. 1975, 395:10. 1992, 284:63, eff. Jan. 1, 1993.
553:20-a Temporary Administrator.
Upon petition or upon its own motion, the probate court shall have the power to appoint a temporary administrator to determine what assets, if any, are contained within the estate. An inventory of the assets shall be filed with the probate court within 60 days of the temporary administrator's appointment.
Source. 1992, 284:64, eff. Jan. 1, 1993.
553:21 How Made.
Appointments under RSA 553:20 and 553:20-a may be made by the court.
Source. 1877, 68:2. GL 195:19. PS 188:20. PL 299:21. RL 352:21. RSA 553:21. 1992, 284:65, eff. Jan. 1, 1993.
The special administrator, under such directions and restrictions as may be inserted in his or her commission, shall return an inventory of the estate of the deceased, shall take care of and preserve the decedent's property and effects, and shall do all other acts which the special administrator may be directed by the judge to perform. The place of taxation of the property of the deceased shall not be changed in consequence of such appointment.
Source. 1877, 68:3. GL 195:20. 1885, 56:1. PS 188:21. PL 299:22. RL 352:22. RSA 553:22. 1992, 284:66, eff. Jan. 1, 1993.
The special administrator shall give bond for the faithful performance of his duty, with sufficient sureties, to the satisfaction of the court appointing him; or, in lieu of a bond, other forms of security acceptable to the court.
Source. 1877, 68:4. GL 195:21. PS 188:22. PL 299:23. RL 352:23. RSA 553:23. 1992, 284:67. 1994, 58:3, eff. Jan. 1, 1995.
553:24 Effect of Appeal.
No appeal from the appointment of a special administrator on questions of law shall suspend the special administrator's duties; but in case his or her bond is alleged by a party interested to be insufficient, the probate court, upon summary proceedings, shall have power to order a new bond and an absolute or qualified stay of proceedings until the order is complied with.
Source. 1877, 68:5. GL 195:22. PS 188:23. PL 299:24. RL 352:24. RSA 553:24. 1967, 132:36. 1992, 284:68, eff. Jan. 1, 1993.
Nonresident Administrator to Appoint Agent
Every resident administrator who removes from the state or who goes out of the state with the intention of being absent more than a year, and every resident of another state who is appointed administrator within this state, shall forthwith appoint some person residing in this state as his agent, to receive notice of claims against the estate and service of process against him as administrator or executor. The appointment shall be in writing, and shall state the full name and post office address of the agent, and shall be filed in the office of the clerk.
Source. PS 188:24. PL 299:25. RL 352:25. 2011, 88:20, eff. July 1, 2011.
Whenever a resident of another state is appointed administrator he shall insert in the notice of his appointment the name and post office address of the agent so appointed by him.
Source. PS 188:24. PL 299:26. RL 352:26.
If an agent removes from the state, or becomes incapacitated to act, or there is a vacancy in the agency from any cause, the administrator shall immediately appoint another agent in like manner.
Source. PS 188:25. PL 299:27. RL 352:27.
553:28 Removal of Administrator for Noncompliance.
If an administrator does not comply with the provisions of the preceding sections he shall be removed from his trust.
Source. PS 188:26. PL 299:28. RL 352:28.
553:29 Service on Agent.
The presentation of a claim against the estate to such agent and the service of legal process against the estate upon him shall have the same effect as if presented to or served upon the administrator in person, within this state.
Source. PS 188:27. PL 299:29. RL 352:29.
Continuation of Business of Decedent
553:30 Authorization to Continue Business.
Upon a showing of advantage to the estate the probate court may authorize the executor, administrator or special administrator to continue any business of the decedent for the benefit of the estate, but if the decedent died testate and his estate is solvent the decree shall be subject to the provisions of the will. The decree may be entered with or without notice, except that if entered without notice it shall be a decree nisi, in which event an order of notice shall issue within five days after the decree, and the decree shall become absolute only after notice and hearing; but the conduct of any business pursuant to such a decree nisi shall not be invalidated by failure of the court to make such decree absolute. Any decree entered hereunder may be revoked or modified for cause shown at any time. The decree may provide (a) the extent of the liability of the estate, or any part thereof, or of the executor or administrator, for obligations incurred in the continuation of the business; (b) whether liabilities incurred in the conduct of the business are to be chargeable solely to the part of the estate set aside for use in the business or to the estate as a whole; and (c) such other conditions, restrictions, regulations and requirements as may be deemed for the benefit of the estate and of creditors thereof. The authority shall not be granted for more than one year from the date of the appointment of the executor or administrator, except that for cause shown the authority may be extended from time to time, but no single extension shall be for more than one year.
Source. 1947, 135:1. RL 352:30.
Waiver of Administration
553:31 Repealed by 2005, 252:9, III, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.
553:31-a Repealed by 1996, 199:3, eff. Jan. 1, 1997.
553:32 Waiver of Administration.
I. (a) Notwithstanding any provision of law, there shall be no requirement for an inventory of the estate, no requirement for a bond, and no requirement for an accounting for assets in any of the following circumstances:
(1) Whenever a decedent dies testate and an individual is named in the will as the sole beneficiary of the decedent's estate and is appointed to serve as administrator.
(2) Whenever a decedent dies testate and all individuals named in the will as beneficiaries of the decedent's estate are appointed to serve as co-administrators or any appropriate person is appointed to serve as administrator with the assent of all such beneficiaries.
(3) Whenever a decedent dies testate, a trust is named in the will as the sole beneficiary of the estate, and any appropriate person, including one or more trustees of such trust, is appointed to serve as administrator with the assent of all such trustees.
(4) Whenever a decedent dies intestate and an individual, including a surviving spouse, is the sole heir of the decedent's estate and is appointed to serve as administrator.
(5) Whenever a decedent dies intestate and all heirs of the decedent's estate, including a surviving spouse, if any, are appointed to serve as co-administrators or any appropriate person is appointed to serve as administrator with the assent of all such heirs.
(6) Whenever, in the discretion of the court, the court determines it is appropriate under the circumstances.
(b) Administration of the estate shall be completed upon the administrator's filing, and the probate court's approval, of an affidavit of administration. Such filing shall occur not less than 6 months and no more than one year after the date of appointment of the administrator. Upon motion of the administrator, for good cause shown, the court may extend the one year deadline for filing the affidavit of administration. The affidavit of administration shall state that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the administrator there are no outstanding debts or obligations attributable to the decedent's estate and shall list all real estate owned by the decedent at the time of death, including the location, book, and page.
(c) If the administrator fails to file the affidavit of administration within the time prescribed in subparagraph (b), including any extensions granted, the court may take appropriate action in the discretion of the court, including, but not limited to, issuing a notice of default, a show cause order, or requiring full administration of the estate.
II. (a) Any interested person may petition for a full administration of the estate at any time from the original grant of administration to the filing of the affidavit of administration, and such petition may be granted by the probate court for good cause shown.
(b) Where full administration is granted subsequent to an original grant of administration under this section, the deadlines for filing an inventory in RSA 554:1, RSA 554:26-a, and RSA 553:13, I(a), and for filing an account of administration in RSA 554:26-a, shall run from the date of the grant of full administration. All other deadlines, including but not limited to the deadline to request proof in solemn form in RSA 552:7, the notice to legatees and heirs at law in RSA 552:15, the publication of notice of appointment in RSA 553:16, the requirement that an estate be open for at least 6 months before a motion for summary administration may be filed in RSA 553:33, II, for petitioning to distribute assets of an insolvent estate in RSA 554:19-b, the deadline for waiver or release of the will and homestead rights and election of statutory rights by a surviving spouse in RSA 560:10 and RSA 560:14, and deadlines relating to suits in RSA 556, shall run from the original grant of administration.
III. Disclaimer, ademption of legacies, or declination to serve as executor may be effectively used to cause the estate to conform to the requirements of paragraph I.
IV. A guardian may be appointed as administrator if the ward qualifies under the provisions of this section.
V. If the administrator is unable to complete the administration of the estate, administration may be completed in accordance with this section by the successor administrator.
VI. The provisions of this section do not relieve the administrator from the responsibility for payment of the expenses of administration and decedent's debts from the assets of the estate pursuant to RSA 554 and RSA 556.
Source. 2001, 195:3. 2005, 252:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2006. 2011, 88:26, eff. July 1, 2011. 2013, 67:2, 3, eff. Jan. 1, 2014. 2021, 206:2, Pt. VI, Sec. 2, eff. July 1, 2021.
553:33 Summary Administration.
I. This section shall apply to all estates, testate and intestate, other than those estates governed by RSA 553:32.
II. Summary administration is available to expedite the closing of an estate when further court supervision of the administration of the estate is no longer necessary. The approval of a motion for summary administration by the court will eliminate the requirement of filing a final account and receipts for the balance of the estate. All other documents required by statute shall be filed. In those estates in which there is federal estate tax liability, the court shall not require the administrator to file a closing letter from the Internal Revenue Service. An administrator may file a motion for summary administration to close an estate not less than 6 months after the date of appointment of the administrator.
III. (a) A motion for summary administration shall contain a statement of the administrator under oath that:
(1) The estate of the decedent has been open for at least 6 months.
(2) To the best of the knowledge and belief of the administrator there are no outstanding debts, obligations, or unpaid or unresolved claims attributable to the deceased's estate.
(3) No New Hampshire estate taxes are due; or all applicable New Hampshire estate taxes have been paid, and a certificate from the department of revenue administration under RSA 87:26 has been filed with the court.
(4) No federal estate tax is due, or the federal estate tax return has been filed and all taxes reported thereon have been paid.
(5) Court supervision of the administration of the estate is no longer necessary.
(6) The administration of the estate will be completed without further court supervision in accordance with the decedent's will and applicable law.
(b) The administrator shall attach to the motion either receipts or assents from all specific legatees, and assents from all other persons beneficially interested, as defined in RSA 550:12. The assents shall state that the beneficially interested person:
(1) Agrees that further court supervision of the administration of the estate is no longer necessary;
(2) Does not request a final accounting; and
(3) Requests that the motion for summary administration be granted.
IV. The court may grant a motion for summary administration if all provisions of paragraphs II and III have been met. Upon the granting of a motion for summary administration, the court shall close the estate and release the bond. The administrator shall then be obligated to complete the administration of the estate without further court supervision in accordance with the decedent's will and applicable law.
Source. 2001, 98:3. 2002, 232:13. 2005, 252:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.