How to File Bankruptcy in New Hampshire

Find out about the information you'll need to file your New Hampshire bankruptcy.

When your financial life needs an overhaul, filing for bankruptcy will often do the trick. But there’s much that you need to know, and it isn’t always easy to find—especially when it’s specific to a particular state. In this article, you’ll learn how to find the official bankruptcy forms, New Hampshire means testing information, approved credit counseling providers, and the New Hampshire bankruptcy court. You’ll also find out what property you can protect in your New Hampshire bankruptcy.

New Hampshire State-Specific Information

Federal law governs bankruptcy, and most procedures are the same in every state. For instance, you’ll find downloadable, fillable, official bankruptcy forms used by all filers on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court forms web page. (For a description of the information needed for each official form, read How to Fill Out Bankruptcy Forms.)

However, you’ll want to be sure to check the New Hampshire Court website for local forms (more instructions in the “About New Hampshire’s Bankruptcy Court” section below), and review other information particular to New Hampshire, as well.

Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information

You’ll find two types of information you’ll need on the U.S. Trustee website: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.

  • Means testing information. Qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires you to show that you meet income qualifications by passing the “means test.” You take the test by filling out forms that ask for your income and then allow you to subtract actual and predetermined amounts. You’ll find income charts and pre-set expenses on the U.S. Trustee’s website (select “Means Testing Information” in the left column). You’ll use the same data to determine the length of your repayment plan and disposable income in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (the amount you must pay to unsecured debts, such as credit card balances, utilities, personal loans, and medical bills). (Learn more by reading What Is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan?)
  • Credit counseling providers. All consumer filers (as opposed to business debtors) must take a credit counseling course within six months of filing for bankruptcy (with limited exceptions). To find approved providers, you’ll select “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education” from the left column on the U.S. Trustee’s website.

New Hampshire Bankruptcy Exemptions

You’ll be able to protect some or all of your property in bankruptcy using New Hampshire’s bankruptcy exemptions. So what happens to nonexempt property? The bankruptcy trustee appointed in a Chapter 7 case sells nonexempt property for the benefit of the creditors. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the filer will need to repay creditors an amount equal to the nonexempt property value (and possibly more).

Here’s more information you’ll need to know about exemptions:

  • Selecting between the federal and state exemptions. New Hampshire allows you to choose between the federal bankruptcy exemptions and New Hampshire exemptions. However, you must pick one system—you can’t mix and match between the two schemes. If you select the state exemptions, you can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions to protect additional assets, such as military and veterans’ benefits, and federal retirement accounts.
  • Spouses can double exemptions. Married couples filing jointly in New Hampshire can each claim the full exemption as long as they both own the property, thereby doubling the exemption amount and protecting more of the property value.

Unless otherwise indicated, all exemption references below are to the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated. Be aware that additional exemptions exist. Also, exemptions are updated periodically so you’ll want to independently verify your exemptions. You can do so at the website of the New Hampshire Government website or by consulting with a local bankruptcy attorney.

Homestead Exemption

You can protect up to $120,000 of equity in a residential property, including a house, condominium or manufactured housing in which you live, as well as the land it’s on if you own it as well. In New Hampshire, the homestead exemption is automatic—you don’t have to file a declaration to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 480:1.)

Motor Vehicles, Tools of the Trade, and Other Personal Property

You can claim up to:

  • $4,000 of equity in one automobile
  • $5,000 of tools used in your occupation
  • $3,500 of furniture, stove, refrigerator, sewing machine
  • $400 of fuel
  • $800 of books for your family’s use
  • $500 of jewelry, and
  • $300 of fowl.

Additionally, you can protect:

  • clothing and beds and bedding for your family’s use
  • military equipment and uniforms
  • one pew in a place of worship and one burial lot, and
  • animals (six sheep; one hog; one pig; one cow; oxen yoke; four tons of hay).

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 511:2.)

Public Benefits and Retirement Accounts

  • ERISA-qualified retirement accounts, such as a pension, IRA, 401(k), educational IRA, Keogh plan, 403(a) and 403(b) annuity, and state-deferred compensation plan (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 511:2.)
  • Public employee benefits (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 100A:26.)
  • Police officer benefits (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 103:18.)
  • Firefighter benefits (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 102:23.)
  • Public assistance, workers’ compensation, and unemployment compensation (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 167:25, 281A:52, 282A:159.)

Insurance Benefits

  • $5,000 in homeowner’s insurance proceeds if the damaged property would be exempt (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 512:21.)
  • Life insurance proceeds—not including cash surrender value (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 408:1,2.)
  • Firefighter’s aid (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 402:69.)

Wildcard Exemption

You can protect any property of your choosing with a value up to $1,000, plus an additional $7,000 of unused exemptions for fuel, books, furniture, tools of the trade, a motor vehicle, and jewelry. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 511:2.)

About New Hampshire’s Bankruptcy Court

New Hampshire has one bankruptcy court with Chief Judge Bruce A. Harwood sitting as the presiding judge. The location and contact number are:

1000 Elm Street (Brady-Sullivan Plaza), Suite 1001
Manchester, NH 03101-1000
(603) 222-2600

You’ll file your paperwork in the clerk’s office located on the 10th floor, and you’ll attend the 341 meeting of creditors on the 7th floor in the U.S. Trustee’s meeting room.

The New Hampshire Bankruptcy Court website has additional information, including the court’s hours, mailing address, trustee information, and local forms (click “Rules and Forms” on the menu bar; scroll down to “Local Bankruptcy Forms.”)

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