If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Hampshire, you can protect some or all of your property with New Hampshire’s bankruptcy exemptions. The bankruptcy exemptions in New Hampshire also play a role in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Read on to learn about the property you can protect with New Hampshire’s bankruptcy exemptions.
For a general overview of bankruptcy exemptions, visit the Bankruptcy Exemption topic page.
New Hampshire is one of the states that allow debtors to choose between the New Hampshire exemptions and the federal bankruptcy exemptions. You can examine both sets of exemptions and choose the scheme that better protects your assets, but you may not pick and choose from both.
If you choose to use the state exemptions, you can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions, as well. This set protects items such as federal retirement accounts and military and veterans’ benefits.
Married couples filing a joint bankruptcy in New Hampshire can each claim the full exemption amount, or "double" the exemption, for any property in which the spouse has an ownership interest. For example, if both you and your spouse own a car and you file jointly, you can double the exemption amount and protect more of the car’s value.
Here are some of the most common exemptions available under New Hampshire law. Unless otherwise indicated, all references are to the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated.
The homestead exemption protects up to $120,000 of equity in your homestead, including manufactured homes, which you own and in which you live. Spouses can double the homestead exemption. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §480:1)
For more details about how the homestead exemption works in New Hampshire, see The New Hampshire Homestead Exemption.
You may exempt the following personal property:
In New Hampshire, you can exempt up to $4,000 of equity in one automobile. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §511:2
Lily owns a 2010 Kia Optima. Her car is worth $12,000 and she owes the dealership $8,000, so she has $4,000 of equity in her car. If Lily files Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Hampshire she can protect all of the equity in her car using the motor vehicle exemption.
To learn more about the New Hampshire Motor Vehicle exemption, visit The New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Exemption in Bankruptcy.
Tax-exempt retirement accounts, qualified under the Internal Revenue Code, including, but not limited to an IRA, 401(k), educational IRAs, pension, Keogh plan, 403(a) and 403(b) annuity, and state deferred compensation plan. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §511:2
Public employees. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §100A:26
Police Officers. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §103:18
Firefighters. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §102:23
Public assistance. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §167:25
Workers’ compensation. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §281A:52
Unemployment compensation. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §282A:159
Up to $5,000 in tools used in your occupation. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §511:2
Homeowner’s insurance proceeds up to $5,000 (the damaged property must have been exempt property). N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §512:21
Life insurance proceeds (not cash surrender value). N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §408:1, 2
Firefighter’s aid insurance N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §402:69
Up to $1,000 in any property, plus up to $7,000 of value in unused exemptions in fuel, books, furniture, tools of the trade, vehicle, and jewelry. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §511:2 (To learn more, see The New Hampshire Wildcard Exemption.)
This list includes some of the more commonly used New Hampshire bankruptcy exemptions, but there are other exemptions available to protect specific property. Additionally, New Hampshire updates its exemptions periodically. You can verify the current exemption amounts at the website of the New Hampshire General Court. To learn how to do this, see Nolo’s Legal Research Center.