SB 327 - AS INTRODUCED
SENATE BILL 327
SPONSORS: Sen. Gray, Dist 6
This bill amends the duties of the registers of probate.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty Two
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 Establishing Compensation; Register of Probate. Amend RSA 23:7 to read as follows:
23:7 Establishing Compensation. Every county convention shall have the power to establish salaries, benefits, and other compensation paid to elected county officers including the county attorney, sheriff, register of deeds, register of probate, treasurer, and county commissioners. For the purposes of this section, except for the register of probate, "compensation'' shall include salary, longevity pay, vacation and sick pay, allowances, and all other payments made by the county to its officers, plus the fair market value of any compensation paid in kind if reportable as income for federal income tax purposes, plus all fringe benefits that may be provided including health insurance and retirement, and may also include an upper limit on the amount of mileage and out-of-pocket expenditures reimbursable to each officer. Said compensation shall be established biennially by the county convention prior to the filing date required under RSA 655:14 for the elected offices listed in this section, upon recommendation of the executive committee which shall remain in effect during their term of office. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, in counties in which any of the officers listed in this section receive fees or mileage, or both, for services performed by them as part of their compensation, the county convention may put such officer on a salary and expenses basis. Such officer may be required to continue to collect the usual fees and mileage for the service performed and to pay over all such fees and mileage to the county treasurer for the use of the county. In such event, the amount such officer received in fees and mileage, less expenses, shall be included in determining the minimum at which his or her salary may be established unless a lesser amount is agreed upon by the incumbent officer at that time. In no case, except for the register of probate, shall the salary or other compensation of any of such officers be established at a lesser amount than that which was in effect December 31, 1972.
2 Salaries for Counties; Register of Probate. Amend RSA 23:8 to read as follows:
23:8 Salaries for Counties.
I. Every county shall establish the salary for its register of deeds at a fixed dollar value. Said salaries may not be established either in part or in total as a percentage of fees or other charges or payments collected by said register. Said salaries shall be established not less than biennially by the county convention, upon recommendation of the executive committee. In no case shall the salary of any of said registers of deeds be a lesser amount than the salary which said register was receiving on January 1, 1974.
II. Every county shall establish the salary for its register of probate at a fixed dollar value. Said salaries may be established either in part or in total as a percentage of fees or other charges or payments collected by the county treasurer or the state and consistent with RSA 548:17. Said salaries shall be established not less than biennially by the county convention, upon recommendation of the executive committee.
III. There is hereby established in the state treasury a separate fund to be known as the county registers of probate fund, which shall be used to help fund equipment, salaries, benefits and other compensation paid by counties to registers of probate. The fund shall consist of all moneys collected pursuant to RSA 490:24, III and RSA 490:27, III. Payment to the counties shall be limited to the extent funds are available in the county registers of probate fund.
IV. Moneys in the county registers of probate fund shall be nonlapsing and continually appropriated to the counties for the purposes stated in RSA 23:8, III.
V. Counties shall report to the state treasurer each year on or before the 15th of March, June, September, and December the total salary and benefits paid to registers of probate in each county since the last report. The administrative judge of the circuit court shall provide by the same dates a summary of the number of probate court filings by county since the last report. The state treasurer shall pay to the counties on or before the 30th of March, June, September, and December of each year a distribution from the county registers of probate fund an amount up to the total salary paid by each county in the previous reporting period. The distribution to the counties shall be calculated on a pro-rata allocation based on the number of probate court cases filed in each county.
3 New Paragraph; Supreme Court; Costs; Entry Fees. Amend RSA 490:24 by inserting after paragraph II the following new paragraph:
III. The sum of $20.00 shall be added to each entry fee collected in the probate division of the circuit courts and shall be deposited into the county register of probate fund established under RSA 23:8, III.
4 New Paragraph; Probate Court Fees. Amend RSA 490:27 by inserting after paragraph II the following new paragraph:
III. The sum of $20.00 shall be added to each entry fee collected in the probate division of the circuit courts and shall be deposited in the county registers of probate fund established under RSA 23:8, III.
5 Judicial Conduct Commission; Definitions; Clerk. Amend RSA 494-A:2, I to read as follows:
I. "Clerk" means a clerk of court or a deputy clerk, [a register of probate or deputy register,] a court stenographer or reporter, and any person performing the duties of a clerk[, register,] or reporter.
6 Registers of Probate; Residence. Amend RSA 548:1 to read as follows:
548:1 Residence, Etc. The register of probate shall [dwell] reside in the county in which [the probate records are required to be kept] he or she is elected. If a register shall [dwell] reside in any other county and continue so [dwelling] residing for 30 consecutive days, the office shall be deemed vacant.
7 New Sections; Registers of Probate; Authority; Deputy Registers of Probate. Amend RSA 548 by inserting after section 1 the following new sections:
548:1-a Authority. The register of probate may work from home or from such other location as determined by the county commissioners. The authority and responsibility of the register of probate shall be to assist parties with probate court filings and probate process governed under state statute.
548:1-b Deputy Registers of Probate. The county commissioners may appoint a deputy to perform the duties of the register of probate in case of sickness, temporary absence, disability, or other cause. Such appointment shall be made in writing and shall be for a length of time not exceeding the register of probate's remaining term of office. The deputy shall be qualified in the same manner as the appointing officer and perform the duties of the register of probate under statute, until such time as the appointment is no longer necessary. The appointed deputy shall be compensated from the register of probate's salary or as otherwise directed by the county delegation.
8 Registers of Probate; Preservation of Files. Amend RSA 548:5 to read as follows:
548:5 Preservation of Files. The register of probate shall be responsible for coordinating with the secretary of state and the administrative judge of the circuit court established in RSA 490-F the preservation of any closed files having the potential for historical significance. The register may recommend that these files be sent to the records center established under RSA 5. Beginning on July 1, 2023, all paper probate records older than 40 years shall be kept in the state archives unless such records are otherwise necessary for the operation of the probate division. The register of probate shall maintain a current index describing the location of any files which have been removed from the court pursuant to this section. Except for records that contain personal information as defined by RSA 359-C:19, IV, the secretary of state, division of archives and records management shall make available on its website links to all available electronically scanned New Hampshire probate records, including those created or maintained by any nongovernmental entity until such time as the state has the capability to make all such records available through state resources.
9 New Section; Record of Decedent's Real Estate. Amend RSA 548 by inserting after section 7-a the following new section:
548:7-b Record of Decedent's Real Estate. Whenever it appears from the inventory or any other instrument pertaining to real estate filed with the probate court in connection with the administration of any estate that the estate contains real estate located in another county within the state, the probate 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 the name of the decedent, his or her 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.
10 Probate Courts and Decedents' Estates; Publication and Notice in Newspaper RSA 550:10 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:
550:10 Publication and Notice in Newspaper. Whenever notice is required to be published in a newspaper by any provision of this title, the probate division of the circuit court shall cause such notice to be made available to the public on the New Hampshire judicial branch website or by other electronic media not less than 2 weeks before the date for which notice is given, unless otherwise ordered by the judge.
11 County Officers; Vacancies; Registers of Probate. Amend RSA 661:9 to read as follows:
661:9 County Officers.
I. If a vacancy for a period of one year or longer occurs in the office of county sheriff, county attorney, register of deeds, register of probate, or county treasurer, the members of the county convention shall fill the vacancy for the unexpired term by a majority of the ballots cast. If a vacancy for a period of less than a year occurs in any such office, the members of the county convention shall, by majority vote of the county convention, vote to either fill the vacancy or to leave the office vacant.
II.(a) If a vacancy occurs in the office of a county commissioner, the members of the county convention, or, if the vacancy occurs in Hillsborough county, the members of the county convention representing the cities and towns in the commissioner's district, shall fill the vacancy by a majority of the ballots cast until the next biennial election of county officers. If the term filled is less than the unexpired term, then notwithstanding any provisions of RSA 653:1, VI, the commissioner district filled pursuant to this paragraph shall be added to the next biennial election ballot to be chosen by the voters of the county for a 2-year term.
(b) The provisions of subparagraph (a) shall apply only where the vacancy occurred no later than 30 days preceding the printing of the ballots for the primary election.
(c) The provisions of RSA 655:32 and RSA 655:37 relating to nominations by appropriate party committees for vacancies in an office on a primary or general election ballot, respectively, shall apply to vacancies to be filled under this paragraph.
III. If any person holding a county office enumerated in paragraph I or II becomes temporarily absent or incapacitated, the county convention may, upon application of the county attorney or county commissioners, declare a temporary absence and fill the same for a limited period of time expressed in the appointment.
IV. Any officer of a county[, including the register of probate,] may be removed by the county convention for official misconduct. Any removal under this paragraph shall be initiated by petition of a majority of the county commissioners, of the county attorney, or of a superior court judge. No officer of a county may be removed without notice of the allegations supporting the petition for removal and an opportunity to be heard by the county convention.
12 New Subparagraph; Application of Receipts; Probate. Amend RSA 6:12, I(b) by inserting after subparagraph (382) the following new subparagraph:
(383) Moneys deposited into the county registers of probate fund established in RSA 23:8, III.
I. RSA 548:28, relative to the penalty for registers of probate.
II. RSA 661:9-a, relative to vacancies in office of register of probate.
|Jan. 26, 2022||Senate||Hearing|
Jan. 14, 2022: Hearing: 01/26/2022, Room 100, SH, 01:30 pm; SC 4
Dec. 15, 2021: To Be Introduced 01/05/2022 and Referred to Judiciary; SJ 1