New Hampshire Last Will and Testament Law

Wills and Estates – Last Will and Testament Law – New Hampshire

Note:  This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law of wills, but does contain basic and other information. Hand-written wills are not discussed.

Who May Make a Will: Every person of the age of eighteen years and married persons under that age, of sane mind, may devise and dispose of their property, real and personal, and of any right or interest they may have in any property, by their last will in writing. 551:1

Execution: To be valid, a will or codicil to a will shall be made by a qualified testator, be in writing, be signed by the testator and be signed by 2 or more credible witnesses, who shall, at the request of the testator and in the testator’s presence, attest to the testator’s signature.  No seal shall be required. These requirements shall apply to all wills executed on or after January 1, 1993. 551:2

Will Made Outside the State: A will made out of this state, and valid according to the laws of the state or country where it was executed, may be proved and allowed in this state, and shall thereupon be as effective as it would have been if executed according to the laws of this state.  A will made out of this state, and self-proved according to the laws of the state or country where it was executed, is self-proved in this state and shall be allowed as such by the probate court. 551:5

Revocation.

I. Except as provided in paragraph II, no will or clause thereof shall be revoked unless by some other valid will or codicil, or by some writing executed in the same manner, or by canceling, tearing, obliterating or otherwise destroying the same by the testator, or by some person by the testator’s consent and in the testator’s presence.

II. If after executing a will the testator is divorced or the marriage is annulled, the divorce or annulment revokes any disposition or appointment of property made by the will to the former spouse, any provision conferring a general or special power of appointment on the former spouse, and any nomination of the former spouse as executor, trustee, conservator, or guardian, unless the will expressly provides otherwise. Property prevented from passing to a former spouse because of revocation by divorce or annulment passes as if the former spouse failed to survive the decedent, and other provisions conferring some power or office on the former spouse are interpreted as if the spouse failed to survive the decedent. If provisions are revoked solely by this section, they are revived by the testator’s remarriage to the former spouse. A decree of separation which does not terminate the status of husband and wife is not a divorce for the purposes of this section. No change of circumstances other than as described in this section revokes a will.

III. If after executing a trust instrument in which a sole grantor reserves a power to alter, amend, revoke or terminate the provisions of the trust, the grantor is divorced or the marriage is annulled, the divorce or annulment revokes any disposition or appointment of property made by the trust to the former spouse, any provision conferring a general or special power of appointment to the former spouse, and any nomination of the former spouse as trustee, unless the trust expressly provides otherwise. Property prevented from passing to a former spouse because of revocation by divorce or annulment passes as if the former spouse and all heirs in the descending line of such former spouse who are not also heirs at law of the decedent failed to survive the decedent, and other provisions conferring some power or office on the former spouse are interpreted as if the spouse and all heirs in the descending line of such former spouse who are not also heirs at law of the decedent failed to survive the decedent. Any devise or distribution to any such heirs in the descending line of such former spouse that is contingent upon such spouse predeceasing the grantor is revoked by this section, unless the trust expressly provides otherwise. If provisions are revoked solely by this paragraph, they are revived by the grantor’s remarriage to the former spouse. A decree of separation which does not terminate the status of husband and wife is not a divorce for the purposes of this paragraph. No change of circumstances other than as described in this paragraph revokes a trust. 551:13

Self-Proved Wills: To qualify as self-proved, the signatures of the testator and witnesses shall be followed by a sworn acknowledgment made before a notary public or justice of the peace or other official authorized to administer oaths in the place of execution, on a required form.  Any will meeting the requirements of RSA 551-A shall also qualify as self-proved and shall be allowed as such by the probate court. 551:2-a.

Interested Witness: Any beneficial device or legacy made or given in a will to a subscribing witness thereto or to the wife or husband of such a witness shall be void unless there be 2 other subscribing witnesses, and such subscribing witness shall be a competent witness thereto; but a provision therein for the payment of a debt shall not be void nor disqualify the creditor as a witness thereto. 551:3


Inside New Hampshire Last Will and Testament Law