Probate for Small NH Estates

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Courthouse for estate probate

In New Hampshire, estates with a single beneficiary can bypass probate via waiver of administration, and almost any estate can somewhat simplify probate via summary administration.

Waiver of Administration

If a New Hampshire estate has a single beneficiary, you may be able to bypass most of probate using a waiver of administration.


You can apply for a waiver of administration if the estate can pay all its debts, and one of the following is the sole beneficiary of the estate and will be appointed as estate administrator:

  • A surviving spouse
  • An only child (if there is no surviving spouse)
  • One or both parents (if there is no surviving spouse or child)
  • A trustee or representative (of the trust identified as the sole beneficiary of the estate)


To use a waiver of administration:

  1. Submit to the court a Petition for Estate Administration (Form NHJB-2145-P) with question #9 marked yes
  2. Upon approval, the court will appoint you estate administrator and issue you "Letters"
  3. Use your "Letters" to collect estate assets, then settle the estate in the normal way (pay obligations, make distributions)
  4. At least 6 months and no more than a year after your appointment, submit a Waiver of Administration Affidavit (Form NHJB-2144-P)

See NH Rev Stat § 553:32.

Summary Administration

If the estate does not meet the requirements for Waiver of Administration, you can slightly simplify probate by starting the normal probate process, then filing for Summary Administration in order to eliminate the requirements to file a Final Accounting and Distribution Receipts.


You can apply for summary administration if:

  • The estate has been in probate for at least 6 months
  • There are no unpaid debts or obligations
  • Any NH estate tax has been paid (and if paid, a certificate from the Department of Revenue Administration under RSA 87:26 has been filed with the court)
  • Any federal estate tax has been paid
  • Court supervision of the administration of the estate is no longer necessary


To settle an estate via summary administration:

  1. Follow all normal processes for normal probate
  2. Ensure all debts and obligations have been satisfied
  3. At least 6 months after the start of probate, file with the court a Motion for Summary Administration (Form NHJB-2149-P)
  4. Finish your duties by distributing the net estate to the rightful recipients

See NH Rev Stat § 553:33.

No Small Estate Administration

Since people commonly ask, note that NH no longer supports what was previously known as Small Estate Administration (NH Rev Stat § 553:33 was repealed in 2005).

No Small Estate Affidavit

Since people commonly ask, note that NH does not support the notion of a small estate affidavit which allows heirs to collect estate assets with no court involvement.

Estate Settlement Considerations

Before paying any debts or making any distributions, be sure to account for any NH Family Entitlements, which typically have priority over everything except expenses of the last illness, funeral charges, and any estate administrations expenses.

Estate debts have priority over most distributions in turn, so you should arrange to have all debts resolved before distributing assets. Unpaid estate creditors have the right to sue heirs for the value of any distributions received using the approaches described on this page.

If estate solvency is uncertain, an executor should consider going through official probate for the increased creditor protection it offers. Alternately, such uncertainty can sometimes persuade creditors to forgive a portion of debts, since they will want to avoid legal expenses as well, and may prefer to get something rather than nothing.

See also Making Distributions.


In New Hampshire, the Probate Division of the local Circuit Court handles wills and estate matters.

See also General Probate.

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