Help with the Probate Process

"You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."

Chinese Proverb

Explanations Every Step of the Way

At New Chapter Legal we understand that it’s overwhelming when a loved one passes away, which only makes the legal aspects of the process more difficult. Our goal is to make probate as simple and straightforward as possible, which includes answering all your questions, explaining the process, including the applicable court forms, rules, and procedures.

If there’re multiple ways you can proceed, we’ll explain your options and offer recommendations, but you’ll always make the ultimate decision about what to do. Additionally, we can refer you to other helpful services and professionals that you might need to assist you with the non-legal aspects of the process.

Court Forms

We can fill out some or all the court forms required for the probate process for you, ensuring that they’re both completed and filed correctly. All court forms will be sent to you for review before they’re filed to make sure the information on them is accurate and so any questions you have can be answered.

Financial Accountings

Most likely, the probate process will require you to file one or more Accountings that show the court all the money that went into and out of an estate during a certain period of time. So long as you provide us with all financial statements, transaction registers, receipts, etc., we can do all of the math for you, fill out the forms, and make sure your Accountings are done and filed properly.

Example Probate Process

This is one example of what the regular estate administration process could look like in New Hampshire, and is provided for information purposes only.

Executor Files the Last Will & a Petition

The Executor files the Last Will and a Petition for Estate Administration with the probate court and the Last Will becomes publicly available.

Step 1

Executor Gets a Bond

The probate court may require the Executor to get a bond, which is an insurance policy for the value of the assets in the estate.

Step 2

Executor is Appointed

The probate court issues a Certificate of Appointment that gives the Executor authority to administrate the estate of the person who passed away. The probate process cannot get going until the Executor is appointed. Currently, it can take up to 2 months for an Executor is be appointed.

Step 3

Executor Creates and Files an Inventory

The Executor may need to submit a list of every major asset in the estate to the probate court within 90 days of appointment.

Step 4

The Estate Stays Open for 6 Months

By law, an estate must stay open for 6 months to allow creditors time to file claims and collect debts. This also means that none of the assets in the estate should be given to any beneficiaries for at least 6 months.

Step 5

Executor Files a Final Accounting

The Executor submits documentation to the Court showing what expenses have been paid and what, if any, income the estate has received, such as interest or dividends.

Step 6

Assets are Distributed to the Beneficiaries

After the probate court accepts and approves the Final Accounting, the assets in the estate are finally distributed to the beneficiaries. Each beneficiary signs a Receipt for the assets they receive, which the Executor submits to the probate court.

Step 7

Frequently Asked Questions

Does probate mean the same as estate administration? What's an estate?
Practically speaking, probate means the same thing as estate administration. Since most people think of the legal process after a person passes away as “probate,” this term is used on New Chapter Legal’s website.

Technically, the term “probate” only applies to a person who has a Last Will and refers to the court process for validating a Will and appointing an Executor. Whereas estate administration refers to the process of making sure that a deceased person’s debts are paid, their assets are collected and managed correctly, and their assets are distributed to the right people.

After a person passes away, they can no longer legally own property. Therefore, the property they owned before they passes becomes owned by a legal entity called an “estate.” So, when John Smith passes away, then all the property he owned becomes part of the Estate of John Smith.
Is there a way to qualify for a simpler probate process?

Yes, under certain circumstances you can “waive” a large portion of the process or use a slightly simplified process called “summary” estate administration.

Do you always have to go through probate when someone passes away?
If a person had a Last Will (including a Pour Over Will) then New Hampshire law RSA § 552:2 states that this Last Will must be submitted to the probate court within 30 days of the person passing away. Therefore, when a loved one passes away with a Last Will, you should go through the probate process to make sure you’re properly following New Hampshire law.

Generally, even if a loved one doesn’t have a Last Will, you must or should still go through the probate process. However, in very specific circumstances where a loved one does not have a Last Will, has minimal or only certain types of debts, and has minimal assets, it may be legally permissible not to go through probate at all. I highly recommend that you talk with an attorney to determine if it’s alright not to go through probate at all before choosing to do nothing.
My loved one passed away and now there's a dispute about their Last Will or Trust. What should I do?

We're sorry for your loss and that you’re dealing with a dispute on top of everything else. We highly recommend that you speak to a lawyer that can advise you on what to do, and can offer you extra support during this time. Unfortunately, New Chapter Legal doesn’t take on any probate matters where there is a dispute about the validity or terms of a Last Will or Trust. However, we can provide you with referrals to other attorneys who may be able to help.

My loved one passed away and I don't want to hire a lawyer, but their Last Will or Trust is written in legalese and I can't make sense of it. Can you help?
Yes, we're happy to give you as much or as little help as you need with the probate process. New Chapter Legal offers what’s called “limited representation” or “unbundled services” where we agree to help you with certain things that you specify. If the only legal help you need is to tell you what the terms of a Last Will or Trust mean, then we're happy to assist with this.

We understand how confusing legal documents can be, which is why New Chapter Legal's estate planning documents are written in plain English. Attorney Veronica DeSantis strongly believes that it’s unfair to ask someone to sign any legal document that’s hard to understand, or that makes it necessary to higher another lawyer in the future to interpret.
A solemn looking woman sits at a desk while writing notes and holding her cell phone to her ear.

Get Help With Probate

Recent Blog Posts