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Restore the registers: Stop ignoring the NH Constitution

January 02. 2018 9:30PM

Amending the New Hampshire Constitution is hard to do.

It requires a super-majority of both the House and the Senate just to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot, and then two-thirds of voters have to approve it.

It’s much easier to simply pretend the Constitution doesn’t exist, as the Legislature did in 2011.

During a reorganization of the state court system, responsibility for the probate system was taken away from the elected county Registers of Probate and invested in the circuit courts.

Belknap County Register of Probate Alan Glassman argues today that the new system has improved efficiency, but at the cost to customer service. People confused by the automated system are left with little recourse but to hire a lawyer. The court’s probate website does not even list the county Registers of Probate.

The House is scheduled to take up HB 476 on Wednesday, which would restore some of the authority of the register’s office, while giving each county flexibility on how it would operate.

The Legislature has had ample opportunity to ask voters to amend Registers of Probate out of the New Hampshire Constitution. Having failed to do so, it must restore authority to this constitutional office, and give people dealing with the estates of deceased relatives an elected and accountable county official to help them through the complicated probate process.

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