Federal law governs bankruptcy in every state, so much of the general bankruptcy filing process is the same, allowing for the development of a plan for the debtor who cannot pay his creditors by a division of assets.
The two main forms of bankruptcy for individuals are:
- Chapter 7 - Also known as straight bankruptcy or liquidation, Chapter 7 allows you to ask the court for your debts to be discharged after asset liquidation. Exempt property may be retained in your possession.
- Chapter 13 - This requires you to file a repayment plan with the bankruptcy court for repayment over a period of time. You may repay all or a portion of the debts depending upon things like earnings, debt types and amount of property owned. Property is not lost in this scenario. Repayment is funded through your income.
Living in New Hampshire has several impacts on bankruptcy:
- You must participate in approved credit counseling and obtain a certificate from an approved administrator within the six months prior to filing before you can petition and file with your correct New Hampshire bankruptcy court.
- You must participate in an approved debtor education course before the granting of a bankruptcy discharge. View the U.S. Department of Justice's website for a list of these counselors.
In New Hampshire, you will have to follow the local rules, fill out New Hampshire's specific bankruptcy forms and follow New Hampshire bankruptcy exemptions.
Where to File for Bankruptcy in New Hampshire
You are eligible to file in New Hampshire if you have lived for most of the 180 days before you file or the place you maintain your home even if you've been living elsewhere. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of New Hampshire is located in Manchester at 1000 Elm Street, Suite 1001.
You can also locate the court you need by seeing the court locator search tool on the U.S. Trustee's website.
Find Out if You Are Eligible to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
You must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in New Hampshire. If your average monthly income is less than the New Hampshire median income, then you are eligible to file Chapter 7. Find the current mean income data at the Census Bureau's website.
If your average monthly income is greater than or equal to New Hampshire median income, then you are not eligible to file Chapter 7.
For statement of current monthly income and means test calculation form for Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, use form 22A.
The Chapter 13 Plan and Length of Chapter 13 Plan
If your average monthly income is less than New Hampshire median income, then you are eligible to file a Chapter 13 Plan. You can repay in 36 months, rather than the full five years.
If your income is above New Hampshire's median income, you can still qualify for Chapter 7, but you'll have to provide detailed data about your expenses and your payments on secured debts; however, most Chapter 13 cases will also have to provide this information.
For statement of current monthly income and calculation of repayment period for Chapter 13, use form 22C.
Potential New Hampshire Exemptions
Exemptions are property that may be excluded from the bankruptcy liquidation and distribution. State exemptions for New Hampshire are revised often. Confirm these exemptions are current updated information.
- Homestead exemption - Real property or manufactured home to $100,000 (in the case of a married couple, these amounts can be doubled if jointly owned to $200,000)
- Wages exemption - Earned unpaid wages of debtor plus spouse, payroll account deposits, up to 50 times the federal minimum wage per week, jury and witness fees and the wages of a minor child
- Other property exempted - Clothing, beds and bedding, cooking utensils, furniture to $3,500, refrigerator, stove, heater, sewing machine, provisions and fuel to $400, books to $800, one hog, one pig, six sheep, one cow, hay to 4 tons, domestic fowls to $300, church pew, motor vehicle to $4,000, jewelry to $500 and burial plot
- Wild card exemption - Any property to $7,000 of previous unused allowance (tools of the trade, jewelry, furniture, books, food, fuel and vehicle) may be exempted except for wages, $1,000 of any property
- Pensions - IRAs, retirement accounts (nontaxable), pensions for police, teachers, state workers and judges (for payments being received only)
- Compensations and public benefits - Unemployment compensation, workers compensation, public assistance and disability benefits and workers compensation
- Tools of the trade - Up to $5,000, arms, uniforms, military equipment, one yoke of oxen, horse needed for farming or teaming
- Insurance - Firefighter's aid insurance, fraternal benefits, society benefits and homeowner's insurance proceeds up to $5,000
- Federal nonbankruptcy exemptions
If you have not lived in New Hampshire for two years or more, you may need to use your prior resident state's bankruptcy laws with regard to state exemptions.
Retaining Legal Advice
Bankruptcy laws in New Hampshire are complicated and subject to change. The facts of each case are wholly unique. This article offers a brief, general summary on the topic. For detailed, specific information, please contact a New Hampshire bankruptcy lawyer.