There are quite a few things that are associated with financial issues. Several common reasons include unmanageable debt, illness, divorce, home foreclosure, or loss of a job.
In fact, the average credit card debt in New Hampshire is a whopping $5,861 per person. In addition, foreclosure rates are also as staggering, one out of every 3,751 NH homes is currently in foreclosure.
If you can relate to the scenarios above, then you are more than likely struggling with other personal issues that come with being in debt. The fear of losing your automobile, home or your income can drain a person mentally & physically. You may have even considered Claiming Bankruptcy .
If you are thinking “Should I File Bankruptcy?” you are surprisingly not alone. Just under a million people file bankruptcy each year in America. Bankruptcy is a tool provided by the US Government to help struggling Americans find relief from massive debt. You may want to consider bankruptcy if it’s best for you.
What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy gives people the chance to lift their financial burden while still working with lenders in a legal capacity. It is started by an individual filing a Petition with their nearest bankruptcy court. The Petition can be filed by a person or by spouses jointly. When the bankruptcy is complete, the filer will ‘exit’ and will have a chance for a fresh start on their finances.
During a bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed to oversee the deatils of the case. His or her responsibilities will vary and depend on whether the individual has filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Did you know that New Hampshire ranks #32 in the nation for bankruptcy filings. In 2017 the number of personal bankruptcies was approximately 189 out of every 100,000 residents.
What Is The Difference Between Chapter 7 And Chapter 13?
Individuals or couples in New Hampshire, who claim bankruptcy, can choose to file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. What is the difference? Look below for more information
The trustee of the bankruptcy will liquidate the assets, such as cars, homes, and other property of value in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy proceeding, In exchange for dissolving all past due debts.
Debtors that were listed on the bankruptcy filing will be repaid with the proceeds collected during liquidation
If you have the means to pay some of your debts, a chapter 13 bankruptcy plan may work for you. You will be allowed to retain your valuable assets over a 3- to 5-year period.
In order to decide which type of bankruptcy an individual will file, they will have to assess their ability to repay under the Bankruptcy Means Test.
What Is A Bankruptcy Means Test?
The ultimate goal of the Bankruptcy Means Test is to determine who is eligible to apply for debt forgiveness through a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It takes into account your:
- income and expenses
- household size and composition
- debt-to-income ratio
If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be able to file for Chapter 13, as above-described.
What Are Bankruptcy Exemptions?
The federal bankruptcy exemptions are a list of exclusions by Congress that are available to filers in specific states. These exemptions will determine what you are able to retain throughout and after Chapter 7. In a Chapter 13 situation, the exemptions will determine what amount you will have to pay certain financial institutions in your repayment plan.
- Real property, or manufactured home, up to $120,000.
- Clothing; beds, bedding and cooking utensils; furniture up to $3,500; Refrigerator, cooking stove, and heating stove; sewing machine; provisions and fuel up to $400; books up to $800; 1 hog and 1 pig, or pork if already slaughtered; 6 sheep and their fleeces; 1 cow, and hay up to 4 tons; domestic fowls up to $300; church pew; motor vehicle up to $4,000; jewelry up to $500; any property up to $1,000; and burial plot or lot
- Proceeds for lost or destroyed exempt property, up to $5,000.
- Earned but unpaid wages of debtor and spouse; payroll account deposits when designated as such; 50 times the federal minimum hourly wage per week; jury and witness fees; wages of a minor child.
- Note: Wage exemptions cannot be uses in bankruptcy.
- Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans).
- IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,283,025.
- Public employees.
- Police officers.
- Pensions or bounty money.
- ERISA-qualified, IRA and Roth IRA retirement accounts.
- Public assistance; aid to blind, aged, and disabled.
- Workers’ compensation.
- Unemployment compensation.
Tools of Trade
- Tools of trade up to $5,000; arms, uniforms, and equipment of a military member; 1 yoke of oxen or horse needed for farming or teaming.
- Firefighters’ aid insurance.
- Fraternal benefit society benefits.
- Homeowners’ insurance proceeds up to $5,000.
- Business partnership property (particular property).
- $7,000 of any property for any unused amounts allowed for tools of trade, jewelry, furniture, books, food & fuel, or motor vehicle.
- $1,000 of any property.
Want to know if you can include Student Loans in Bankruptcy or Medical Bills in Bankruptcy? Check out our Bankruptcy FAQ’s section.
Filing Bankruptcy Alone vs. Filing With An Attorney
Current bankruptcy laws do not require individuals to hire an attorney to declare bankruptcy relief. Individuals are permitted to represent him or herself as a pro se debtor. You will simply contact the local bankruptcy court and obtain all forms and requirements directly through them. Filing alone is not an easy task.
Filing Bankruptcy without an Attorney
A simple Chapter 7 Bankruptcy that doesn’t have a lot of debtors or assets may be easy to manage on your own.
A basic bankruptcy that doesn’t require an attorney might look like:.
- Your income is below the state median;
- You have no property;
- Your debts will be considered dis-chargeable.
Working With An Attorney
Most of the time, it is usually in one’s best interest to work with a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy lawyer is there to represent you and not the creditors.
An attorney is also keenly familiar with exemption laws. In addition, they can come up with creative strategies to keep your assets through practical repayment strategies that are fair to everyone involved.
While you may have the fight and ability to manage a Bankruptcy on your own, it tends to make things a lot easier on an already stressful situation, especially when there is so much at stake.
What Does Bankruptcy Include?
Once you file for bankruptcy in NH, the courts put in place an order called an Automatic Stay. This order will stop debt collection calls, wage garnishments, and additional claims. Keep in mind that payments regarding child support and criminal cases will still need to be made during this time.
In any event, Bankruptcy will be able to include:
- credit card debt
- protection from eviction
- avoidance of foreclosure
- utility bills
- medical expenses
Again, unless you are filing a complex Chapter 13 case, you will lose all assets associated with a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy protection. You will, however, be able to prevent any and all collections from occurring as long as they were incurred before the date of filing and discharge.
Final Thoughts And Considerations On Filing For Bankruptcy In New Hampshire
As you can see, there a lot of information associated with successfully filing for bankruptcy and then exiting it unscathed or satisfied. Only a licensed bankruptcy attorney can guide you through this arduous process, particularly when it comes to complex cases. Be sure to hire someone you respect and trust.
Bankruptcy Courts In New HampshireWarren B. Rudman United States Courthouse
55 Pleasant Street
New Hampshire Bankruptcy Court
Additional New Hampshire Resources
Foreclosure Help Program
Disability SSDI Benefits