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New Hampshire Inheritance Laws

New Hampshire does not charge an inheritance or estate tax. But if you inherit an estate from someone who lived in a state that does have such taxes, you may still have to pay it. In this detailed guide of New Hampshire’s inheritance laws, we break down intestate succession, probate, taxes, what makes a will valid and more. If you’d like professional guidance on your estate planning, or just need help investing your inheritance, you can use SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool.

Does New Hampshire Have an Inheritance Tax or Estate Tax?

New Hampshire does not have an inheritance tax. However, if you inherit from someone who lived in or owned property in a state that does have an estate tax, such as Maryland or Kentucky, then you may have to deal with that tax.

It is one of the 38 states in the U.S. that does not levy an estate tax. But you may not get out of taxes altogether just because you inherited an estate in New Hampshire. The federal estate tax is applied if an inherited estate is more than $12.06 million in 2022. While it’s taxed only on the overage and not the entire estate, the rate can be as high as 40%.

While similar, state taxes and inheritance taxes differ in a few important ways. Estate taxes, also called the death tax, are taken out of the deceased’s estate immediately after their passing. Inheritance taxes are imposed upon the deceased’s heirs after they have received their inheritance.

New Hampshire also does not have a gift tax, but the federal gift tax will kick in if you give more than $16,000 in one calendar year. Also, the state does not have a salary or wage tax, but there is a 5% tax on dividends and interest earned on investments, plus high property taxes.

Other Necessary Tax Filings

  • Inheritance tax from another state: There is no inheritance tax in New Hampshire, if you inherit an estate from someone living in a state that does impart these taxes (such as Maryland or Kentucky), you will be responsible for paying them.
  • Federal estate tax: Regardless of the state in which you reside, the federal estate tax is applied if an inherited estate is more than $12.06 million in 2022. This is only taxed on the overage, not the entire estate, but the rate can be as high as 40%.

To file any of these estate-based returns, you’ll need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS. You can do this online, by fax or via mail.

Dying With a Will in New Hampshire

If you die and leave behind a valid will and last testament in New Hampshire, it will take precedence over the state’s intestacy laws. Dying with a last will and testament in place, or dying testate, is the best way to control to whom and how your estate is distributed, regardless of your state’s intestate succession laws.

Dying without a valid will and last testament is called dying intestate. This means your estate will be subject to your state’s succession laws and may even have to go through the probate process. In many cases, it’s best to avoid the probate process, as it can be lengthy and expensive.

Wondering what the requirements for a valid will and last testament in New Hampshire are? For starters, the testator (the person who created the will) must be at least 18 years old, of sound mind and the will must be signed by the testator and two witnesses. The will must name a beneficiary and must be in writing. However, in some cases, New Hampshire does recognize oral wills, but only if made by a soldier in active military service or mariner or seaman at sea.

In New Hampshire, you can file a waiver of full administration affidavit to speed up and essentially skip the probate court process. There are no specific dollar amount requirements surrounding this waiver, so you’ll need to file for individual approval. This, of course, is not guaranteed.

If an estate in New Hampshire does not receive this waiver, it will be required to go through the standard probate process, which includes filing paperwork such as the deceased’s will, the petition for probate, and posting a notice in the local newspaper. The court will then grant the estate’s executor the legal right to act on behalf of the estate, all creditors and taxes will be paid, and only then will the heirs collect their share of the estate.

New Hampshire does not adhere to the Uniform Probate Code, a standardized set of probate procedures used across 15 states.

Dying Without a Will in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Inheritance Laws

If you die without a valid will and last testament in place in New Hampshire, the distribution of your estate will be subject to the state’s intestate succession laws, and may also be subject to the probate process, which can be both lengthy and expensive.

Generally speaking, if you die intestate in New Hampshire, your closest living relatives will inherit your estate, though that depends on who you leave behind – a spouse, children, parents, even siblings.

As with many states, there are some assets in New Hampshire that are exempt from intestate succession laws, such as property in a living trust, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, payable-on-death bank accounts, real estate that is transfer-upon-death, and community property in which the property passes on to the surviving spouse.

Spouses in New Hampshire Inheritance Law

Spouses will generally be entitled to a large share if not all of your intestate assets, but that depends on whether you leave behind other heirs, such as children or parents, according to laws in New Hampshire, which does not recognize common law marriage.

Leave behind a spouse and no children or surviving parents, and your spouse inherits your entire estate. If you die with a surviving spouse and children with that spouse (and your spouse has no other children), then your spouse gets the first $250,000 of your estate, plus half of the balance, while your children get the rest.

Let’s say you die with a surviving spouse and children with that spouse, and your spouse has children with someone other than you. Your spouse then gets the first $150,000 of your estate, plus half the remainder. Your children then inherit the rest.

If you leave behind a spouse and children with someone other than that spouse, your spouse gets the first $100,000 of your estate, plus half of the rest, and your children get the rest. Die intestate and leave behind only a spouse and parents, and your spouse gets the $250,000 of your intestate property, plus three-quarters of the balance, while your parents get the rest.

Children in New Hampshire Inheritance Law

If you die intestate in New Hampshire, your children are entitled to part of your estate, but how much depends on whether you also leave behind a spouse, and if you have children with someone other than your surviving spouse.

For example, leave behind a spouse and children with that spouse (and your spouse has no other children), then your spouse gets the first $250,000 of your estate, plus half the balance, while your children get everything else.

Die with a surviving spouse, children with that spouse and your spouse has children with someone other than you, and it changes a bit – your spouse gets the first $150,000 of your estate, plus half the remainder. Your children inherit the rest.

But leave behind a spouse and children with someone other than that spouse, your spouse gets the first $100,000 of your estate, plus half the rest, and your children get the rest.

In New Hampshire, children are only eligible to receive part of your intestate assets if they are legally recognized children by the state. So, they have to be adopted, born within marriage, or born outside of marriage if a marriage later occurred or paternity was established. Grandchildren are also eligible to receive a share.

Intestate Succession: Spouses and Children
Inheritance Situation Who Inherits Your Property
Spouse, but no children or living parents – Entire estate to spouse
Spouse and children with that spouse, and spouse has no children with anyone else – Spouse gets the first $250,000 of your estate, plus ½ of the balance
– Your children inherit the rest
Spouse and children with spouse and someone other than spouse – Spouse gets the first $100,000 of your estate, plus ½ the remainder
– Your children inherit the rest
Spouse and children with spouse and spouse has children from previous relationship – Spouse gets the first $150,000 of your estate, plus ½ of the remainder
– Your children inherit the rest
Spouse and parents -Spouse inherits $250,000 plus 3/4 of the balance
– Parents inherit the rest

Unmarried Individuals Without Children in New Hampshire Inheritance Law

New Hampshire Inheritance Laws

If you are unmarried and die without a valid will and last testament in New Hampshire, then your estate passes on to your children in equal shares.

If you die intestate unmarried and with no children, then by law, your parents inherit your entire estate. If your parents are no longer living, your siblings are next in line.

And if you die intestate and don’t have any surviving family, your property goes back to the state, though this is rare. These succession laws are only enacted in the case of an intestate estate. If a valid will and last testament are in place, it takes precedence over a state’s succession law.

Intestate Succession: Extended Family
Inheritance Situation Who Inherits Your Property
Children, but unmarried – Entire estate to children
Parents, but no spouse, children, or siblings – Entire estate to parents
Parents are deceased, but no spouse or children – Estate split among siblings in equal shares

Non-Probate New Hampshire Inheritances

New Hampshire allows some property to be exempt from intestate succession laws. This includes property in a living trust, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, payable on death bank accounts, real estate that is transfer-upon-death, and community property in which the asset passes on to the surviving spouse.

Other Situations in New Hampshire Inheritance Law

There are a few unique situations regarding New Hampshire’s inheritance laws to keep in mind. For example, according to state law, half relatives are treated the same as whole relatives, and an heir’s immigration status does not affect their right to inherit their share of your estate. And in order to inherit a portion of your estate, an heir must outlive you for 120 hours. And if an heir was conceived before you died but born after you died, they are still entitled to their portion of your estate.

Resources for Estate Planning

  • Managing your own estate, or handling the intricacies of inheriting money from the estate of a loved one, can get complicated. That’s why many people choose to work with a professional. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If you’d rather build your estate plan on your own, that’s definitely an option. However, there are a number of DIY estate planning mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/DenisTangneyJr, ©iStock.com/Kirkikis, ©iStock.com/Daniel Hanscom

Rachel Cautero Rachel Cautero writes on all things personal finance, from retirement savings tips to monetary policy, even how young families can best manage the financial challenges of having children. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Forbes, The Balance, LearnVest, SmartAsset, HerMoney, DailyWorth, The New York Observer, MarketWatch, Lifewire, The Local: East Village, a New York Times publication and The New York Daily News. Rachel was an Experian #CreditChat panelist and has appeared on Cheddar Life and NPR’s On Point Radio with Meghna Chakrabarti. She has a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University and a master's in journalism from New York University. Her coworkers include her one-year-old son and a very needy French bulldog.
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