New Hampshire may be small compared to the rest of the states in North America, but the people who live there are proud of some of the largest ski mountains on the East Coast, the Appalachian Trail, and the plethora of hardwood trees that turn into a riot of color come autumn. Yet, when families or individuals become swamped with credit card or other types of debt, it becomes difficult to enjoy the wild wonders that New Hampshire has to offer. For those struggling under the weight of too much debt, there is hope. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows New Hampshire residents to free themselves from an overburdened financial life.
What Can Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Do for You?
Not only does a bankruptcy allow you to discharge most of your debts, it can also halt a number of proceedings that would otherwise destroy your daily life. AChapter 7 bankruptcy has helped individuals to:
- Stop a foreclosure
- Lift a garnishment or frozen bank account
- Halt a short sale
- Stop creditor calls and harassment
- Prevent vehicle repossession
Filing for Chapter 7 will get rid of most, if not all debts. Any unsecured debt (such as credit cards or personal loans) and some unsecured debt (such as a house or car) can be discharged in a bankruptcy. Some debt such as school loans, child support or alimony payments, and recent tax bills cannot be discharged.
Isn’t Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 a Long Process?
Actually, a Chapter 7 is the shortest type of bankruptcy a debtor can file. When individuals file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy they can expect to be completely done with all procedures in about six months. Initially debtors are expected to meet with a local bankruptcy attorney and bring relevant financial information. Your attorney may ask for the following documents:
- The lax six months of pay stubs
- Your last filed tax return (including your spouse’s)
- A complete list of all creditors that you owe money
Once you bring these documents in, your attorney will start preparing your petition. Anywhere between 45-60 pages, the petition includes all pertinent financial information the bankruptcy court will review during your bankruptcy.
You will be required to attend a short hearing called the “Meeting of Creditors.”
Debtor’s Education Courses
All individuals filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are required to take two courses on credit and debt management. The Bankruptcy Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 require debtors to take one course before the petition is filed, and then another course after the meeting of creditors. The courses are not long, generally around 90 minutes and they can be taken over the phone or on the Internet. It’s important to choose a company that is recognized by the bankruptcy court; ask your bankruptcy lawyer for a list of reputable companies. Your courses will be submitted to court along with your petition.
Exemption Laws for New Hampshire
When filing for bankruptcy Chapter 7, or 13, in accordance with bankruptcy law, each filer is allowed to keep some property and assets. While the amounts vary in each state, these codes help protect debtors who file for bankruptcy, giving them a better start once they discharge their debt.
Debtors are allowed to choose between state and federal exemption codes to use in their petition. This lets those filing for bankruptcy better options when it comes saving important assets. The state exemption laws for New Hampshire include:
- Homestead Exemption – Up to $100,000 in equity for a primary residence.
- Wearing apparel and bedding – 100% exempt
- Furniture – Up to $3,500
- Books – Includes bibles, school books, and other books, $800 in value.
- Appliances – 100%
- Jewelry – Up to $500 in value.
- Pensions and Benefits
- 100% Military Survivor benefits plans
- 100% Firemen’s retirement system benefits
- 100% Worker’s compensation
- 100% Unemployment compensation
- 100% Fraternal Benefit Society benefits
- 100% Federal civil service disability and death benefits
- 100% ERISA benefits
- 100% Social Security benefits
- 100% Public safety officer’s benefits
- Wages – 50 times the federal minimum hourly wage is exempt.
- Motor vehicle – One vehicle valued at $4,000 or less
- Farm maintenance
- 1 hog – 100%
- 6 sheep – 100%
- 1 cow – 100%
- 2 oxen – 100%
- A horse or pair of horses if used for farming – 100%
- 4 tons of hay – 100%
- Domestic fowl - $300
- Tools for farming or other business – Up to $5,000
Note that the amounts for each exemption code can change from year to year. Talk to your New Hampshire bankruptcy attorney for the most up-to-date codes.
Do You Qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Not everyone who wishes to file for bankruptcy will be allowed to do so. In order to meet the state and federal requirements, debtors must fall at or below the median income for the state they live in. The New Hampshire median income level is:
- Single individual: $51, 460
- Family of 2: $63,534
- Family of 3: $82,465
- Family of 4: $89,990
- Families larger than 4: Debtors must add $7,500 per individual to the base income level.
If you exceed the income level for your family size you still may qualify. The bankruptcy court determines if a Chapter 7 is right for you by using the means test. This procedure mathematically examines your assets and debts. Contact your attorney about the means test if you make over the median income level to qualify for a Chapter 7.
Free up your life and get out there and enjoy all that New Hampshire has to offer. Discharge your debt today with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and find out what life without debt is like.
New Hampshire Bankruptcy Courts
1000 Elm Street, Suite 1001
Manchester, New Hampshire 03101
Phone: (603) 222-2600