Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated August 17, 2020
The New Hampshire State House is the oldest state capitol in the country where the legislature still meets in its original chambers. However, even though the state is proud of its history and doesn’t believe in compromising on its traditions – like their motto “Live Free or Die” would suggest – there are times where change is truly needed. For residents of the Granite State who find themselves in financial trouble, that change can come from the decision to file a bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy in Concord is a great way for New Hampshire residents to get a clean slate and change their financial future. It can be tough to decide which type of bankruptcy is best for you, but most people find a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Concord forgives the most debt and gives people the freshest start possible. These bankruptcies are straightforward procedures and, for people with few or no assets, can often be done from start to finish in less than 4 months. Because money is an issue for people filing bankruptcy, it’s helpful to know the process can be inexpensive and you can easily complete the process yourself without hiring an attorney. Upsolve’s New Hampshire bankruptcy guide will walk you through the documents you will need to file your bankruptcy, the forms you must complete to file your bankruptcy petition, and the steps you must take to have a bankruptcy Court erase your debts.
Before diving into the Concord bankruptcy process, it will be helpful to take a moment and explain legal terms you will see during your bankruptcy that may be new to you. A “petition” is the first term you should learn and is the new term you will probably see more than any other when dealing with your bankruptcy. A petition is a legal form you must complete and file along with supporting documents at your local bankruptcy Court to begin your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Concord. The next word to understand is “creditor.” Any company or person you owe a debt to is a creditor. Once you file your bankruptcy petition, you will be assigned a “trustee” – someone the Court chooses to supervise your case, review your forms and financial documents, and decide if any of your property can be used to pay part of what you owe.Finally, the entire point of going through bankruptcy is to get a Court to “discharge” your debts. The discharge order legally erases your debt and keeps your creditors from trying to make you pay what you owed later.
Concord Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Costs
Though it’s possible to handle your Concord bankruptcy entirely on your own, if it’s financially possible for you to hire an attorney, it’s often a good investment. The will know the best way to deal with cases involving complicated finances or assets that may not be protected by bankruptcy law exemptions. At somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Concord is higher than the national average, but if your situation is difficult this could end up being a great investment. Preparing and filing your petition with the Bankruptcy Court, as well as attending your required 341 meeting with your Trustee, are usually included in your Concord bankruptcy lawyer cost as part of their fee. If you are not sure whether you should hire a bankruptcy attorney, many provide a free consultation to review your situation and help you understand the best way to proceed. Though there are benefits, many people in Concord just can’t afford the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer – but we can help you navigate the process easily.
How to File Bankruptcy in Concord, New Hampshire for Free
When filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Concord, you will have a variety of forms you must complete, as well as documents you must include with your petition to the Court. New Hampshire bankruptcy requirements also direct you to complete certain credit counseling classes and attend a 341 meeting to receive a discharge of your debts, but these are explained in detail below.
Collect Your Concord Bankruptcy Documents
One of the hardest parts of the entire process is understanding how to file bankruptcy in Concord. This involves figuring out the documents and information you need to correctly fill out the required bankruptcy forms, but it means most of your heavy lifting is done even before your New Hampshire bankruptcy is filed with the Court. You will need a copy of your credit report, which you can get for free every 12 months from the three major consumer credit reporting companies. To disclose all your debs, you will need every bill and notice from debt collectors you’ve gotten in the last 90 days, as well as names and addresses of creditors so the Court can send notify them you are filing bankruptcy in Concord. To show your income to the Court, you will need the most recent federal tax return you filed. You also need your last 6 months’ worth of paychecks, which your employer’s Human Resources or Payroll Department can provide. It can also be helpful to get copies of anything else reflecting your property – vehicle title, current bank statements, retirement accounts, alimony agreements from a divorce, and an appraisal of your home.
Take Credit Counseling
Before you file a New Hampshire bankruptcy, you must complete a credit counseling course approved by the United States Trustee’s Office no more than 180 days before filing your petition to the Court. You will then need to include your completion certificate with your Concord bankruptcy petition. The course is meant to help you understand your expenses, the bankruptcy process, and potential alternatives to filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Though there are no approved credit counseling courses you can take in person in New Hampshire, there are several approved agencies with courses you can take over the phone or online to satisfy the requirement. The courses should generally take no more than a few hours to complete and cost around $50. If your income falls below a certain level, however, you can apply for a waiver of the fee and may not have to pay for the course.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Everyone filing bankruptcy in Concord – and everywhere else in New Hampshire – must complete and submit certain documents to the Court to officially begin their bankruptcy case. The list of 24 required forms and statements may seem overwhelming, but the Court is just asking for a complete picture of your finances to understand your case better. The forms can be found online free of charge, and there are many ways to get help completing them. If you can afford a bankruptcy lawyer, they will usually complete and file the forms for you. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you may be able to qualify for legal aid or Upsolve may be able to help with the process. If you are filling out the forms yourself, there are also helpful instructions published by the federal government as well as bankruptcy software you can purchase to help walk you through the process. It’s important that you are completely honest when completing your forms and provide all the information needed to make sure you fully answer all the questions and can comply with the requirement that you sign the forms under penalty of perjury – saying you have not lied or omitted information in your Court filing.
Get Your Filing Fee
Most people filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Concord have to pay a $338 filing fee to the Court clerk with their bankruptcy petition. If this presents a financial difficulty, there are other options. You can apply to make installment payments on the fee, and this will let you make up to 4 payments to satisfy the requirement. However, it’s important you make the payments by their due date – Courts can dismiss your Concord bankruptcy case if you are late or miss payments. If you don’t think you can afford to pay any fee, you can apply to waive the fee. You can’t have an income above 150% of the federal poverty line, and the Court will review your waiver application and decide whether to excuse you from paying the fee or order you to pay in installments instead. If you are filing bankruptcy in New Hampshire without an attorney, you can pay the fee using cash, a cashier’s check, or money order payable to the “Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court.”
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Once you fill out your bankruptcy forms, it’s time to print them out so you can give an original, signed copy to the Court and officially begin your bankruptcy case. These forms can be printed on regular size printer paper, so printing these documents at home, a print shop, or a local library can be done easily. You may want to buy or bring extra paper, because these documents will often use a large amount of paper and you can’t submit double-sided pages to the Court. If you get help from Upsolve, these documents will be sent to you in a single PDF file so you don’t have to open individual files for each form to print them. Don’t forget to sign your Concord bankruptcy forms as you print them!
Go to Court to File Your Forms
If you are not represented by a lawyer, you have two options for filing bankruptcy in Concord. You can mail your forms to the courthouse, or, better yet, go to the courthouse to file your New Hampshire bankruptcy case in person. This guarantees your petition is received and you’ll know right away if you completed all the forms and successfully filed your case. New Hampshire’s Bankruptcy Court, located in Concord is open Monday through Friday, except federal and court holidays, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Try to leave yourself at least an hour before closing time to make sure you have a chance to file your petition and are not caught in a last-minute end of day rush. If you can’t make it in time, there is an after-hours drop box at the Clerk’s office you can use to file your forms and submit either a money order or cashier’s check to pay your filing fee.
When filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Concord, review the procedures for visiting the courthouse so you know what you should and should not bring into the building and can avoid headaches at the security screening area. Once you are through, go to the Court Clerk’s office with your forms and either your filing fee or your waiver or installment payment request. The Clerk will review and process your forms, then give you a case number you should use to reference your bankruptcy from that point. They will also give you bankruptcy trustee’s name, as well as the date and location of your 341 Meeting with that trustee. Once this is done, congratulate yourself for filing your New Hampshire bankruptcy! You have started the official process of discharging your debts, and no debt collectors or creditors can contact you from now on to collect on debts, file legal action against you, or take measures to garnish your paychecks or foreclose on your property.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Concord, you’ll receive the name and contact information of the trustee for your case. The trustee will supervise your case and check to make sure you are following laws and proper bankruptcy procedures. Expect to hear from your trustee after filing your case and be aware they may contact you by mail instead of by phone. Every trustee has their own style for administering cases, so do not be surprised if they ask you for additional information or more financial documents before your 341 meeting with them takes place. Answer their requests promptly and be as thorough as possible – if they feel you are not being cooperate or upfront, they can ask the Court not to discharge your debts.
After filing bankruptcy in Concord, you have to provide your trustee with a copy of every paycheck or pay stub you received in the last 60 days before filing your case with the Clerk.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
After filing bankruptcy in Concord, you need to complete a second educational course before you are eligible for a discharge of your debts. To make sure the Court does not close your case without granting you a discharge, you should submit a certificate of completion from an approved Financial Management Course provider to the Court within 60 days from the first date for your 341 meeting. Like the credit counseling course, there is nowhere in New Hampshire to take the course in person, but you can take it online or over the phone. This course should take 2 to 3 hours and generally costs between $10 and $50 dollars. The course is designed to educate you on responsible financial practices, budgeting, and other tips to help you avoid finding yourself in the same situation in the future.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Before your New Hampshire bankruptcy is complete, you must attend a 341 Meeting – also known as a “Creditors Meeting” – with your trustee and any creditors who want to attend, though they rarely do. The meeting is typically scheduled around 30 days after filing bankruptcy in Concord and usually only lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. Courts usually schedule a number of these meetings at the same time, so even though you can take steps to prepare for your meeting, you may get to watch other people’s meetings take place and better understand what to expect. Remember to bring acceptable proof of identification and social security number so your identity can be verified and your meeting can proceed as scheduled. Try to dress in a respectful manner when appearing in Court – no gym clothes – and don’t forget to bring a signed copy of your bankruptcy forms with you for the Trustee to review. The trustee may ask you some simple questions regarding your finances or want to verify information from your forms, so it is helpful to have them with you to reference your answers or refresh your memory. Once this meeting is concluded, the trustee will normally close your case, which means you do not have to do anything else and can expect a discharge of debt from the Court within the next couple of months.
Dealing with Your Car
Many people worry that filing a New Hampshire bankruptcy means they will have to give up their car. Though this is true in some cases, there are more options available to filers than most people realize. If the vehicle is completely paid off and worth less than a certain amount, you may keep it by claiming an exemption. If, however, you still owe money on the car when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Concord, you must make an “election” to decide how you will deal with the asset. If you can still afford your car payment and your car loan is not worth more than the value of the car, you can enter a reaffirmation agreement and keep making payments as agreed in the terms of your loan documents. If your car is worth less than the loan balance and you can afford to, you can alternatively elect to pay the creditor the value of the vehicle all at once to redeem it. Otherwise, you have the option to surrender the car and get rid of the balance you still owe on the car loan.
New Hampshire Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Concord
New Hampshire Means Test
Not everyone can qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief in the Granite State. When filing bankruptcy in Concord, you must complete a New Hampshire bankruptcy Means Test to find out if you are eligible for relief. The Means Test is meant to figure out the people who truly need debt relief and prevent people from taking advantage of bankruptcy to get rid of debts they can afford to pay back through Chapter 13 bankruptcy or alternative methods. The Means Test looks at the size of your household, your household income, and your monthly expenses to decide if you make too much to have most of your debts eliminated using Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can see if you fall under the maximum allowable income for your family size using Upsolve’s current Chapter 7 Means Test calculator. If you fail New Hampshire’s Means Test, you can still seek some relief through Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This is known as a “reorganization bankruptcy” and lets you work with creditors and the Court to make your monthly payments manageable again.
Median Income Levels for New Hampshire
New Hampshire Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
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Poverty Levels for New Hampshire
New Hampshire Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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New Hampshire Bankruptcy Forms
New Hampshire uses most of the national bankruptcy forms created by the federal government – local New Hampshire bankruptcy forms do exist, but most of them are only used when certain situations come up during a bankruptcy. The one local form you will need when filing bankruptcy in Concord is a Verification of Creditor Mailing List confirming the list of creditors you provide when filing is true and complete.
New Hampshire Exemptions
New Hampshire state law and the U.S. Bankruptcy Code have different lists of exemptions that can affect which property you may keep. If you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Concord and have been a New Hampshire resident for at least 2 years, you can choose whether you want to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions or the New Hampshire bankruptcy exemptions. Exemptions allow you to protect some of the things you own from being sold to pay debts you owe to creditors.