Legal Rights for the LGBTQIA+ Community in NH - Phaneuf
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Legal Rights for the LGBTQIA+ Community in NH

The unexpected death of a partner is devastating. Worse is discovering you don’t have any legal say in what happens to their body or in their funeral arrangements. Information on this page lets you know what to do to ensure your partner (if you are not married) oversees control of your remains and your finances/estate.

Legal Rights for the LGBTQIA+ Community in NH

The unexpected death of a partner is devastating. Worse is discovering you don’t have any legal say in what happens to their body or in their funeral arrangements. Information on this page lets you know what to do to ensure your partner (if you are not married) oversees control of your remains and your finances/estate.

Control of remains

Under the New Hampshire RSA 290:11, a body can be released to a funeral director or the deceased’s next of kin or designated agent. The term next of kin only applies to a legal spouse or blood relative under NH RSA 290:16.

If you are unmarried, naming your partner as your designated agent in a durable power of attorney (DPA) is one way to allow your partner to make decisions before your death about what happens to you at the time of your death. Your DPA becomes void at the time of death. You can also grant a designated agent and the power to make funeral arrangements in your will.

Legal statues in New Hampshire point to the importance of pre-planned and pre-paid funeral arrangements.

NH 290:17

“If the subject has designated a person to have custody and control in a written and signed document, custody and control belong to that person.”

NH RSA 290:20

“If the subject has left written and signed instructions regarding funeral arrangements and disposal of the subject’s remains, the person having custody and control shall abide by those wishes to the extent that the subject paid for those arrangements in advance or left resources for the purpose of carrying out those wishes.”

Control of finances

Naming your partner as your agent in a DPA also allows them control of your finances when you are ailing or otherwise unable to do so. You can also name your partner as joint owner on any bank or investment accounts you hold, in which case your partner will own the account by right of survivorship at time of your death.

Control of estate

You should name your partner as a beneficiary of your trust or will if you want them to inherit any of your assets. If you want them to manage the property in your estate, name them as trustee or executor.

Gender identity and a death certificate

Appointing an executor who respects your gender identity is important when preparing your death certificate, though New Hampshire has not made any law regarding this. A NH death certificate does not call for pronouns.

In Phaneuf’s system, we record the gender the decedent identified as and refer to them by their preferred pronouns when speaking to family whenever possible. We also use the decedent’s preferred name in obituaries and on our website/social media.

Legally, the name on the death certificate needs to match the name known by social security, so if a legal name change has not been completed we do not have the option of filing the death certificate under the chosen name. There is a space allotted for an aka, where we could use the name the decedent lived by day to day. We can use whatever name the decedent lived under in our own software, in obits, and any other place.

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