TITLE LVI
PROBATE COURTS AND DECEDENTS' ESTATES

Chapter 554
INVENTORY, ACCOUNTS, AND DEALING WITH ASSETS

Section 554:1

    554:1 Inventory. –
I. Every administrator shall file under the penalties of law, with the court, within 90 days after the date of appointment, a full, true, and itemized inventory of all the estate of the decedent which has come to the administrator's knowledge. If an administrator fails to file an inventory within 30 days after the required filing date, the administrator is in default. The clerk shall give notice of the default to the administrator by first class mail within 10 days after the default. The clerk shall issue a citation notice in accordance with RSA 554:26-a. The inventory shall contain a detailed itemized list of all real and personal property and the fair market values thereof as of the decedent's date of death, and how such value was determined, whether by appraisal, tax information, bank statement or other source. It shall be an unsworn falsification punishable pursuant to RSA 641:3 for the administrator to make a false statement on the inventory.
II. No appraiser shall be required to provide an opinion of the value of the assets listed by the administrator on the inventory; except that the judge may appoint one or more appraisers, either upon a motion of an interested person or on the probate court's own action, if the nature of the property or the size of the estate or some other cause makes it advisable to do so.
III. If any person claims a present legal or equitable right of title to real or personal property in the estate of the decedent, the administrator may petition the probate court pursuant to RSA 547:11-b to determine the question as between the parties.

Source. RS 159:1. CS 168:1. GS 177:1. GL 196:1. PS 189:1. 1893, 67:8. 1897, 62:1. PL 300:1. RL 353:1. RSA 554:1. 1992, 284:69. 1993, 190:12. 1996, 265:10. 2000, 95:3, eff. April 27, 2000. 2011, 88:27, eff. July 1, 2011. 2013, 67:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2014.

Section 554:1-a

    554:1-a Repealed by 2001, 195:5, eff. Jan. 1, 2002. –

Section 554:2

    554:2 Repealed by 2005, 252:9, IV, eff. Jan. 1, 2006. –

Section 554:3

    554:3 Repealed by 2013, 67:5, eff. Jan. 1, 2014. –

Section 554:4

    554:4 Articles Not Assets. – The wearing apparel of the widow and her ornaments, according to the estate of her husband, and the wearing apparel, Bibles and school books of the minor children, are their property, and shall not be regarded as assets, or be the subject of bequest by the husband.

Source. RS 159:3. CS 168:3. GS 177:3. 1870, 29:1. GL 196:3. PS 189:3. 1917, 139:1. PL 300:4. RL 353:4.

Section 554:5

    554:5 Articles Not to be Inventoried. – The wearing apparel, Bibles, family pictures, photographs, albums and any other personal trinkets of sentimental rather than intrinsic value belonging to the deceased leaving a widow, husband, children or heirs surviving, shall not be inventoried or accounted for, but shall be delivered by the administrator to the surviving husband or wife, if any, otherwise shall be divided by him among the children or, if there are no surviving children, among the heirs; but the same may be otherwise disposed of by will.

Source. RS 159:3. CS 168:3. GS 177:3. 1870, 29:1. GL 196:3. PS 189:3. 1917, 139:1. PL 300:5. RL 353:5.

Section 554:6

    554:6 Accountability for Assets. – All assets, though not inventoried, shall be accounted for, and the administrator charged therewith in the account of administration.

Source. RS 159:4. CS 168:4. GS 177:4. GL 196:4. PS 189:4. PL 300:6. RL 353:6.

Section 554:7

    554:7 Accountability for Chattels. – All goods and chattels shall be accounted for at the appraised value, unless sold at auction or private sale; and the administrator conducting the sale with fidelity and impartiality shall be credited with the loss, or charged with the gain, upon the sale.

Source. RS 159:5. CS 168:5. GS 177:5. GL 196:5. PS 189:5. PL 300:7. RL 353:7. 1953, 95:1. RSA 554:7. 1977, 310:1, eff. Aug. 26, 1977.

Section 554:8

    554:8 Accountability for Stocks, Etc. – All stocks and bonds shall be accounted for by the administrator at the prices which they shall bring at a public or private sale; and the administrator conducting the sale with fidelity and impartiality shall be credited with the loss, or charged with the gain, upon the sale.

Source. 1857, 1963:3. GS 177:5. GL 196:5. PS 189:6. PL 300:8. RL 353:8. RSA 554:8. 1977, 310:2, eff. Aug. 26, 1977.

Section 554:9

    554:9 Property Not to be Sold. –
I. Personal property specifically bequeathed shall not be sold, if not needed for the payment of debts; and any property may be reserved at the sale, unless so needed, for the benefit or upon the request of the heirs or legatees, and the administrator shall be discharged by delivery thereof to the persons entitled thereto.
II. At any time after the appointment of the administrator, without petition to the court, a single motor vehicle registered in this state in the decedent's name, if used for family purposes, may be transferred by the administrator to a legatee or heir, if not needed for the payment of debts.

Source. RS 159:6. CS 168:6. GS 177:6. GL 196:6. PS 189:7. PL 300:9. RL 353:9. 2005, 252:8, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.

Section 554:10

    554:10 Transfer to Heirs. – The judge may order the administrator to transfer stocks, bonds and other evidences of debt to the heirs or their guardians, in just proportion, whenever he shall deem it for the interest of the heirs that the same should not be sold; and such guardians are authorized to receive the same.

Source. 1857, 1963:1. GS 177:7. GL 196:7. PS 189:8. PL 300:10. RL 353:10.

Section 554:11

    554:11 Debts Due Estate. – All debts due to the estate, which by due diligence might have been collected, shall be accounted for in money.

Source. RS 159:7. CS 168:7. GS 177:8. GL 196:8. PS 189:9. PL 300:11. RL 353:11.

Section 554:12

    554:12 Compromise. – A debt due from an insolvent person may be compromised and discharged on payment of such part thereof as the administrator deems proper, and the administrator shall be chargeable only for the amount received.

Source. RS 159:8. CS 168:8. GS 177:9. GL 196:9. PS 189:10. PL 300:12. RL 353:12.

Section 554:13

    554:13 Sale of Accounts. – The judge may license an administrator to sell at auction or private sale any accounts or evidences of debt which, in his opinion, cannot be collected within a reasonable time by the exercise of due diligence; and, for such accounts and evidences of debt, the administrator shall be charged only with the proceeds of the sale if he conducts it with fidelity and impartiality.

Source. RS 159:5. CS 168:5. 1857, 1963:3. GS 177:5. GL 196:5. PS 189:11. PL 300:13. RL 353:13.

Section 554:14

    554:14 Administrator's Debt. – A debt due from the administrator to the estate shall be assets and accounted for as other debts. If such debt is specifically bequeathed to him his right thereto shall be the same as that of any legatee; and the judge, after due notice, shall liquidate and adjust all debts and claims due to the administrator, or from him to the estate.

Source. RS 159:9. CS 168:9. GS 177:10. GL 196:10. PS 189:12. PL 300:14. RL 353:14.

Section 554:14-a

    554:14-a Record of Decedent's Real Estate. – Whenever it appears from the inventory or any other instrument pertaining to real estate filed with the court in connection with the administration of any estate that the estate contains real estate located in another county within the state, the court shall notify, within 15 days, the register of deeds of the county in which the real estate lies of the name and date of death of the decedent. A register of deeds who receives such a notice shall record in the grantor's index of the register's office the name of the decedent, the decedent's date of death, and the county in which the estate is being probated. The cost for filing said notice shall be assigned to the estate.

Source. 2011, 88:18, eff. July 1, 2011.

Section 554:15

    554:15 Duties as to Real Estate. – The administrator shall receive the rents and profits of the real estate, in case the estate is insolvent, and keep the same in repair, and account for the net proceeds thereof in his administration account.

Source. RS 159:10. CS 168:10. GS 177:11. GL 196:11. PS 189:13. PL 300:15. RL 353:15.

Section 554:16

    554:16 Redemption of Property. – The administrator, if there be sufficient assets, shall redeem all property of the deceased under mortgage, pledge or levy of execution for less than its value, or which if unredeemed would diminish the value of the estate, unless he shall by license sell it subject to the encumbrance; and neglect so to redeem shall be deemed maladministration and waste. Provided however, when real estate under mortgage is specifically devised, the devisee shall take such real estate subject to the mortgage, unless the testator in his will or by insurance has provided expressly or by necessary implication that such mortgage be otherwise paid; and if the note or obligation of the testator secured by such mortgage be paid out of other property in his estate after his decease, the executor of his will, at the request of any person interested, and by leave of the probate court shall sell such specifically devised real estate for the purpose of satisfying the estate of the testator for the amount so paid, together with the costs and expenses thereof.

Source. RS 159:11. CS 168:11. GS 177:12. GL 196:12. PS 189:14. PL 300:16. RL 353:16. RSA 554:16. 1963, 43:1, eff. Sept. 1, 1963.

Section 554:17

    554:17 Sale of Real Estate. – Every administrator shall apply for and procure license for the sale of so much of the real estate as may be necessary to pay debts and legacies, if the personal estate is insufficient; and neglect or refusal to obtain such license, to make such sale, to account for the proceeds thereof, or fraudulent conduct therein, shall be deemed maladministration and a breach of his bond.

Source. RS 159:12. CS 168:12. GS 177:13. GL 196:13. PS 189:15. PL 300:17. RL 353:17.

Section 554:18

    554:18 Real Estate Purchased, Etc. – Real estate purchased by, or set off to, an administrator to secure or satisfy a debt due to the estate shall vest in the heirs in the same manner as if the deceased had died seized thereof, and may be sold for the payment of debts, or divided as part of the estate.

Source. RS 159:13. CS 168:13. GS 177:14. GL 196:14. PS 189:16. PL 300:18. RL 353:18.

Section 554:18-a

    554:18-a Real Estate; Notification of Towns and Cities. – Prior to rendering his final account, every administrator as defined in RSA 553:1 shall notify the selectmen of each town and the assessors of each city of those persons coming into the ownership of real estate through inheritance or devise, and shall certify to the probate court, on a form approved by the court, that such notice has been given. The provisions of this section shall not apply when real estate of a decedent is sold by license or consent.

Source. 1979, 189:1, eff. Aug. 5, 1979.

Section 554:18-b

    554:18-b Waiver of Rights to Devised or Inherited Real Property. – Notwithstanding any right to disclaim an interest in property as provided for in RSA 563-B, a person who has been devised real estate by testamentary instrument, or inherited under the laws of intestacy, may waive his or her rights to the property by filing a written notice of waiver with the court in which the estate administration is pending that shall include a legal description of the property. The waiving party shall provide a copy of the waiver to the administrator of the estate and shall record an attested copy in the registry of deeds in the county in which the real estate is located. Once filed with the court and recorded at the registry of deeds, the waiver may not be revoked. The effect of the waiver will be to relinquish the right of the waiving party and his or her heirs and assigns from receiving any and all right, title, and interest in and to the real estate. The waiving party and his or her heirs and assigns shall thereafter bear no responsibility or liability related to or arising from the real estate. The cost to record the waiver in the registry of deeds shall not exceed $5. A waiver filed after the final account has been allowed, or the estate administration has been closed by other means, shall not be effective.

Source. 2015, 139:1, eff. June 12, 2015.

Section 554:19

    554:19 Priority of Charges. –
I. The administrator of an estate shall make payment of the claims in the following order:
(a) Costs and expenses of administration of the estate.
(b) Reasonable and necessary funeral, burial, and cremation expenses.
(c) Debts and taxes with preference under federal law.
(d) Claims made for financial and/or medical assistance provided to the deceased by the department of health and human services, debts collected by the state pursuant to RSA 126-A:34, and charges pursuant to RSA 166:19. The department of health and human services may distribute claims made in the following order: first, that assistance funded entirely by moneys from the general fund; and second, that assistance funded by a combination of state and federal funds.
(e) Just debts of the deceased.
(f) Legacies given by the will of the deceased or distribution to heirs according to law.
II. No preference shall be given in the payment of any claim over any other claim of the same class.
III. No creditor of a lower class shall receive any payment until all those of the preceding class shall have been fully paid.

Source. RS 159:14. CS 168:14. GS 177:15. GL 196:15. PS 189:17. PL 300:19. RL 353:19. RSA 554:19. 1975, 258:1. 1998, 5:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1999. 2010, 189:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2011. 2011, 224:355, eff. July 1, 2011. 2013, 144:38, eff. July 1, 2013.

Section 554:19-a

    554:19-a Notice to Office of Reimbursements. – Every administrator shall notify the office of reimbursements under the direction of the commissioner of the department of health and human services if he has knowledge of liability under RSA 126-A:37.

Source. 1971, 183:9. 1977, 600:27, IV. 1985, 96:4. 1995, 310:15, eff. Nov. 1, 1995.

Section 554:19-b

    554:19-b Insolvent Estate. –
I. When it appears to an administrator of an estate that the known claims and expenses of administration exceed the value of the assets, the administrator may petition the court for initial determination that the estate is insolvent.
II. The petition shall show the value of the estate, names and addresses of all known creditors, the amount claimed by each creditor, whether the decedent had a revocable trust, and the value of the trust property available to satisfy creditors and claims pursuant to RSA 564-B:5-505.
III. The administrator shall provide notice of the petition to all persons beneficially interested in the estate as defined by RSA 550:12.
IV. The court may rule on the petition without a hearing. At the discretion of the court, the order granting the petition may allow for the waiver of filing an inventory or any accounts. Upon an order of the court granting the petition filed pursuant to paragraph I, all actions and suits against the deceased or the administrator shall be stayed:
(a) Unless the deceased was insured for the matter which is the subject of the action, and, in such case, recovery shall be limited to the coverage of the insurance policy or policies; or
(b) Unless the stay is lifted by the court in which the estate is pending, and in such case, if judgment is rendered for the plaintiff, the judgment shall be certified to the probate court, and the amount of the judgment shall be added to the list of claims.
V. No sooner than 6 months after the grant of administration, the administrator of an estate that has been determined to be insolvent shall petition the court for an order to distribute assets pursuant to RSA 554:19.
VI. The petition shall show the value of the estate, names and addresses of all known creditors, the amount claimed by each creditor, and the amount the administrator proposes that each creditor is entitled to receive from the estate, whether the decedent had a revocable trust, and the value of the trust property available to satisfy creditors and claims pursuant to RSA 564-B:5-505.
VII. The administrator shall provide notice of the petition to all persons beneficially interested in the estate as defined by RSA 550:12. The petition shall state that beneficially interested persons have 30 days to object to the petition. If no timely objection is received by the court, it may issue an order of distribution without a hearing.
VIII. Not sooner than 30 days after the order of distribution is issued by the court, the administrator shall distribute the decedent's estate and file with the court an affidavit certifying that distribution was made in accordance with the court's order. The administrator shall thereafter be wholly discharged, by decree of the judge, from all claims of the creditors against the estate, without other proceedings.

Source. 2010, 189:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2011.

Section 554:20

    554:20 Expenses of Assignment, Etc. – The expenses of assigning the homestead right, of the division and assignment of the real estate, and of appointing guardians of minors and others incapacitated to take care of their interest, whether heirs or legatees, shall be chargeable as expenses of administration.

Source. RS 159:15. CS 168:15. GS 177:16. GL 196:16. PS 189:18. PL 300:20. RL 353:20. RSA 554:20. 1971, 179:15, eff. Aug. 10, 1971.

Section 554:21

    554:21 Monuments. – Administrators of estates actually solvent may erect suitable monuments at the graves of the testators or intestates, and the reasonable expense thereof shall be allowed them on settlement of their accounts.

Source. RS 159:16. CS 168:16. GS 177:17. GL 196:17. PS 189:19. PL 300:21. RL 353:21.

Section 554:22

    554:22 Care of Lots. – Executors, administrators and trustees may pay, upon the order of the judge, to a cemetery corporation or to the city or town in which the decedent has a burial place, a reasonable sum of money for the perpetual care of the lot, in which their decedent is buried, and the monuments thereon.

Source. 1911, 32:1. 1917, 65:1. PL 300:22. RL 353:22.

Section 554:23

    554:23 Amount Allowed. – The judge shall determine, after notice to all parties in interest, to whom the same shall be paid and the amount thereof, if any, and such sum shall be allowed in the accounts of such executor, administrator or trustee.

Source. 1911, 32:1. 1917, 65:1. PL 300:23. RL 353:23.

Section 554:24

    554:24 Oath on Claims. – All claims against an estate shall, if required by the administrator, be exhibited under oath, as follows:
I do solemnly swear that, according to the best of my knowledge and belief, the above is a true statement of my claim against the estate of . . . , late of . . . , and that I have not on my books or elsewhere any credit, nor have I any knowledge of any credit or offset that should be allowed against my claim, except what is stated in the foregoing account. So help me God.

Source. RS 159:17. CS 168:17. GS 177:18. GL 196:18. PS 189:20. PL 300:24. RL 353:24.

Section 554:25

    554:25 Account. – The account of the administrator, or the schedules filed therewith, shall contain an itemized account of every sum of money received and paid out by the administrator, with the date thereof and a statement of the source from which it was received or of the consideration for which it was paid.

Source. 1881, 59:1. PS 189:21, 26. PL 300:25, 26. RL 353:25, 26.

Section 554:26

    554:26 Filing Accounts. – Every administrator and executor shall file in the probate office an annual account of administration, unless upon petition he is excused by the judge of probate; but in no event shall he be excused for a period longer than three years. Before giving notice to settle his final account, he shall file it in the probate office of the county where it is to be settled, and shall cause the fact of such filing to appear in the notice, and shall at the same time file a statement of the names and residences of the heirs, legatees, and beneficiaries, if known to him.

Source. RL 353:26. 1947, 264:2, eff. July 1, 1947.

Section 554:26-a

    554:26-a Notice to Fiduciaries. –
I. A fiduciary appointed by the probate court shall file, as required by law, an inventory within 90 days after the date of appointment, or an account of administration within one year after the date of appointment. If a fiduciary fails to file an inventory within 30 days after the required filing date, or an account of administration within 90 days after the required filing date, the fiduciary is in default. The clerk of the applicable circuit court established in RSA 490-F shall give notice of the default to the fiduciary by first class mail within 10 days after the default. In the case of any inventory, account, annual report, statement of voluntary administration, or waiver of administration affidavit, the fiduciary shall either file the inventory, account, annual report, statement of voluntary administration, or waiver of administration affidavit, or show good cause for the failure to file, within 30 days after notice of the default from the clerk. If the fiduciary fails to file or to show good cause, the judge of probate shall issue a citation to the fiduciary to appear before the judge pursuant to RSA 550:2. The fiduciary shall pay default and citation fees as established by the supreme court under RSA 490:26-a to the clerk, pursuant to RSA 490:27. The requirements of this section shall apply to fiduciaries previously appointed as the judges of probate may prescribe by rules adopted pursuant to RSA 547:33.
II. The clerk shall contemporaneously with the issuance of any citation pursuant to paragraph I and RSA 550:2 send a copy of such citation by first class mail to the following:
(a) Any surety for the fiduciary;
(b) Any person who has filed an appearance; and
(c) Any residuary beneficiary, and the director of charitable trusts in cases involving charitable dispositions and trusts.

Source. 2011, 88:19, eff. July 1, 2011.

Section 554:27

    554:27 Attendance Excused. – Any person appointed as executor, administrator, trustee or guardian by the probate court, who shall hold an appointment to the same office from a court in another state or territory of competent jurisdiction at least equivalent to that of probate courts in this state, or who shall be a non-resident of this state, may, at the discretion of the judge, have his accounts approved and allowed in the probate courts of this state without his personal attendance; and the judge may receive, as evidence in support of such accounts, affidavits or depositions in such form as he may approve, or duly certified copies of any accounting made by such executor, administrator, trustee or guardian in such other state or territory. For good and sufficient cause shown, the judge may approve and allow the account of a resident fiduciary, which has been subscribed and sworn to before a justice of the peace or notary public, without the personal attendance of the accountant.

Source. 1907, 34:1. PL 300:27. RL 353:27. RSA 554:27. 1963, 165:8, eff. Aug. 19, 1963.

Section 554:28

    554:28 License to Foreign Executor, Etc. – Whenever an executor, administrator, trustee or guardian, duly appointed and acting as such in another state or country, represents a person who owned or is entitled to personal property in this state, he may make petition to the probate court in the county where the property is situated, or, if it is stock in a corporation, to the court in the county where the corporation has its principal place of business, for license to sell, transfer or receive and dispose of the same, and the judge, after such notice as he shall order, if no sufficient objection appears, shall license him to sell, transfer and convey, or to receive and dispose of, such property and shares in the same manner as he might do if appointed under the laws of this state.

Source. 1854, 1529:2. 1866, 4239:1. GS 182:18. GL 201:18. PS 189:23. PL 300:28. RL 353:28.

Section 554:29

    554:29 Conditions of License. –
Such license shall not be granted until the expiration of six months after the death of the testator or intestate, nor unless it shall appear:
I. That there is no executor, administrator, trustee or guardian, appointed under the laws of this state, entitled to the property;
II. That such foreign executor, administrator, trustee or guardian will be liable for the avails of the property and shares in the state or country where he is appointed;
III. That no creditor or person interested, who is a resident of this state, objects to such license or will be liable to be prejudiced thereby;
IV. That all taxes due to the state have been paid or secured;
V. That he has filed in the probate court authenticated copies of his petition, bond and appointment in such other state or country.

Source. 1854, 1529:2. 1866, 4239:1. GS 182:18. GL 201:18. PS 189:24. PL 300:29. RL 353:29.

Section 554:30

    554:30 Mortgage of Real Estate. – The judge, on application of the administrator or executor, with the assent of the heirs or devisees or, if minors or under disability, their guardians or conservators, may grant a license to mortgage the real estate of any person deceased, when the personal property shall be insufficient to pay the just demands by law chargeable to the estate, or to make necessary or desirable repairs to preserve such real estate, or where it is otherwise necessary to raise money to facilitate settlement of the estate.

Source. 1957, 167:1, eff. July 1, 1957.

Section 554:31

    554:31 Petition. – The petition for such license to mortgage shall recite the limits of the principal amount, the interest rate, and the term of the note to secure the mortgage, and said note and mortgage shall be executed by the administrator or executor, and said heirs or devisees, or if minors, their guardians or conservators, who assented to the petition to mortgage.

Source. 1957, 167:1, eff. July 1, 1957.

Section 554:32

    554:32 License. – The license shall include the homestead rights and other rights therein, upon consent in writing by the widow or widower of the decedent.

Source. 1957, 167:1. 1971, 179:16, eff. Aug. 10, 1971.

Section 554:33

    554:33 Issuance of License. – No such license shall issue later than two years after the date of the appointment of the administrator or executor, and no license shall be available to sustain a mortgage made by the administrator or executor, under said license unless made within ninety days from the granting thereof.

Source. 1957, 167:1, eff. July 1, 1957.

Section 554:34

    554:34 Proceeds. – The proceeds of such mortgage under license shall be accounted for to the probate court in accordance with the provisions of this title and on approval of the final account, the administrator or executor shall be discharged from liability for said note and mortgage. The executor or administrator shall notify the mortgagee of his discharge.

Source. 1957, 167:1, eff. July 1, 1957.

Section 554:35

    554:35 Foreign Executor. – Upon application made by any administrator or executor appointed in another state, whose intestate or testator owned lands in this state, to the judge for the county in which the lands lie, upon compliance with RSA 554:29, a license may be granted said administrator or executor to mortgage such lands as if he had been appointed in this state. Such administrator or executor shall give bond with sufficient sureties resident in this state and in all other respects be entitled to the same rights and subject to the same liabilities as if appointed in this state.

Source. 1957, 167:1, eff. July 1, 1957.