Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated December 2, 2019
The Granite State and its people have a long history of independence and are rightfully proud of it. New Hampshire was the first of the thirteen colonies to declare independence from England six full months before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Though New Hampshire residents cherish independence, many find themselves bogged down by mounting debt and struggling to pay bills. Financial difficulties have forced more people in the Granite State to seek relief through bankruptcy this year than in past years – January of this year had the most people filing for bankruptcy since 2014. No matter why paying bills is becoming a challenge, sometimes filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester is the best option for honest people in unfortunate situations to hit the reset button, put their finances back on track, and get creditors off their backs. Depending on your financial situation, you may be eligible to choose between different types of bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes away the most debt and can take less than 4 months to complete if you don’t have many assets. A New Hampshire bankruptcy can even be completed on your own! This handy Manchester bankruptcy guide will help you understand the process, learn what documents and information you will need, and tell you what to do to have your debts eliminated.
When filing bankruptcy in Manchester, it’s useful to understand the meaning of some legal terms you may not know. A bankruptcy “petition” is the legal form you submit to a New Hampshire Bankruptcy Court to officially start your Manchester bankruptcy case. You will have to include supporting documents and information with the petition we will discuss later. You file a bankruptcy petition asking the court to eliminate debt you owe to any “creditor” – anyone to whom you currently owe money or who claims you owe them money. Your case will be supervised by a “trustee,” a person appointed by the court to review the documents you submitted, request additional information if needed, and decide if any of your property should be sold to pay down your debts. If your “assets,” or things you own, are worth more than bankruptcy law allows, they are not “exempt” - or protected - and you may not be able to keep them away from your creditors. Once the trustee’s job is done, if everything is in order, you’ll receive a “discharge” from the court, eliminating eligible debts and stopping creditors from trying to collect from you in the future.
Manchester Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Costs
Many people can complete their Manchester bankruptcy without the help of a lawyer, but some people get peace of mind from hiring an attorney if they can afford one. This is especially true if their finances are complicated or they have a lot of assets bankruptcy exemptions might not protect. In New Hampshire, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer usually runs between $1,200 and $1,500, but if you can afford it, the cost can save you from headaches and maybe even expensive mistakes during difficult bankruptcies. The Manchester bankruptcy lawyer cost usually includes preparing your forms, filing your petition with the local Bankruptcy court, going with you to your required Creditors’ Meeting with your trustee, and answering any questions you have during your bankruptcy. If you have not decided whether to hire an attorney, many will offer you a free initial consultation. However, if you want to proceed on your own or can’t afford a lawyer Upsolve has resources to help you.
How to File Bankruptcy in Manchester, New Hampshire for Free
Before filing bankruptcy in Manchester, you will have to take steps to satisfy New Hampshire bankruptcy requirements and prepare documents that must be given to the court to begin your case. You will also have to gather money to pay the court filing fee or else complete forms to see if you are eligible to waive the fee or pay in installments. Below, we will outline the process you need to follow.
Collect Your Manchester Bankruptcy Documents
When planning how to file bankruptcy in Manchester, set out time to collect information and fill out the required forms before filing your petition with the court. It can take a lot of time, but by the time you finish filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester, you’ll be done with most of the hard work! You have to get a copy of your credit report, and you can easily get a copy for free from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. To show your debts to the court, you need all the bills and collection notices you’ve received in the last 90 days, and the court needs names and addresses of your creditors so it can notify them you filed a New Hampshire bankruptcy. You must also list your assets and income. This includes the last 6 months of pay stubs, recent bank statements, investment and retirement accounts, titles to any vehicles you own, and the mortgage statement for your property. When filing bankruptcy in Manchester, you also need to include your most recent tax return. If you don’t have a copy, you can request one from the IRS by phone, mail, or online.
Take Credit Counseling
No more than 180 days before filing your Manchester bankruptcy, you must take an approved credit counseling course – a completion certificate has to be given to the court with your bankruptcy petition. The goal of the course is to show you alternatives to filing bankruptcy, and give you valuable information about the process and what to expect. These courses usually cost $50 or less, but you may qualify for waiver of this fee if your income is less than 150% of the current federal poverty standard. New Hampshire doesn’t currently have any courses you can attend in person, but there are a number of approved agencies offering phone and online courses that will fulfill the credit counseling requirement.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
When you’re filing bankruptcy in Manchester, the court needs you to complete 24 forms for your bankruptcy case. Don’t panic! Most of these forms are straightforward and ask for either basic information that shows your financial picture or for confirmation that the information you provide the court is true and correct. This is why it’s so important to be thorough when collecting documents – the more information about debts, income, expenses, exemptions, and assets you have at your fingertips, the easier it is to complete these forms. Free copies of the forms are available online, and a bankruptcy lawyer, legal aid, or Upsolve’s nonprofit bankruptcy service may be able to help you complete them. If you are completing the forms yourself, there is bankruptcy software you can purchase, and the government has also created instructions to help.
Get Your Filing Fee
The bankruptcy court clerk usually charges $335 to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester, which you can pay in cash, money order, or cashier’s check made out to the “Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” If coming up with this lump sum payment is challenging, you have options to get help. You can fill out a form asking to pay fee in up to 4 installment payments after filing bankruptcy in Manchester. But, if the court grants your request, you must make your payments on time or else you risk having your bankruptcy case dismissed. If installment payments will still cause you to struggle, and your income falls below a specific level, you can complete another form asking to waive the fee entirely. You have to tell the court about your income, expenses, and property on this form, and court will either grant your request or have you pay the fee in installments.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
After completing your forms, you must print them out and sign them in order to file a copy with the local bankruptcy court and start your case. Using regular 8.5” x 11” paper is fine but have a lot of it handy because the forms can easily total over 50 pages. You’ll want to make one single-sided copy for the court and one for your personal records. If you can’t print at home or a friend’s house, a local print shop or library are convenient alternatives located close to the Granite State’s bankruptcy court. If you are printing your own Manchester bankruptcy forms, you will need to open each of your completed forms to print them. If you’re taking advantage of Upsolve’s nonprofit bankruptcy service, you’ll receive these completed documents in one PDF file to streamline the process.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Only attorneys can file bankruptcy petitions electronically in New Hampshire. You’ll have to file your paperwork by mail or in person at the courthouse, but it’s safer to file in person to make sure you have all the proper paperwork and your case gets filed that day. New Hampshire has one bankruptcy court, in Concord, that is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except federal holidays. Be prepared to pass through a metal detector at the entrance, then head to the clerk’s office and tell them you are filing for bankruptcy. Take your signed, completed forms, supporting documents, and filing fee or application for installment payments or waiver. Try to go early enough not to be rushed, because you may have to wait in the court clerk’s office to be helped and for your paperwork to be processed. If the office is closed, there is an after-hours drop box on the south end of the Cleveland Building you can use to submit your forms and the filing fee in the form of either a money order or cashier’s check. Your bankruptcy forms should take about 15 minutes to process, and then the clerk will give you your bankruptcy case number, the name of your bankruptcy trustee, and the location and appointment time for your required 341 Meeting with your trustee and creditors. Now, take a moment to congratulate yourself on filing your Manchester bankruptcy case! You’ve officially started the process and your creditors are now unable to contact you about your debts or attempt to collect on them during your case.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
You should have received your trustee’s name when you filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester – they’re responsible for overseeing your case, reviewing your forms and documents, and checking to see that all the rules and regulations in a bankruptcy case are followed. Cooperate with them fully and be honest, because they can ask the court not to grant you a discharge if they feel you’re not doing your duty as a debtor in bankruptcy. Before your 341 meeting, your trustee will likely contact you requesting additional information or answers to questions. They may send you mail instead of calling, so check your mail regularly and respond to any requests from your trustee completely and as soon as possible.
Even if the trustee doesn’t ask for additional information, there are rules specific to New Hampshire you must follow to avoid having your Manchester bankruptcy case dismissed. For example, it’s your responsibility to send every pay stub from the 60 days before you filed your case to your trustee.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
After filing your New Hampshire bankruptcy documents, it’s wise to go ahead and take your second required bankruptcy course. Many people even do this before their 341 meeting, to get it over with and avoid delays in receiving a discharge. The course is usually at least 2 hours long and deals with financial management and making responsible financial choices in the hopes that filing bankruptcy in Manchester bankruptcy again won’t be necessary. You must submit a completion certificate for the court to discharge your debts.
Unfortunately, there are no brick and mortar locations in New Hampshire to complete this Manchester bankruptcy requirement – however, approved courses can be completed over the phone or online for a fee between $10 and $50. If you can’t afford the fee and your household income falls below 150% of the current federal poverty level, you may qualify for a waiver.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
When you filed your bankruptcy petition, you should have gotten the date, time, and location of your 341 Meeting, also called the Creditors’ Meeting. To complete your Manchester bankruptcy, you need to attend it. Your trustee, your attorney if you hired one, and any creditors that want to attend will be there. However, creditors rarely show up to these meetings. The 341 meeting is brief and usually only lasts 5 or 10 minutes. There may be other filers present, because several of these meetings are often set for the same time. You may get to see other people’s 341 meetings before yours takes places, but it’s better to take time to prepare ahead of time.
Remember to bring a signed copy of your Manchester bankruptcy forms for the trustee and your own reference. The trustee will have you verify basic information like whether you signed your bankruptcy forms, but they may also ask questions including how you calculated values for certain items and how you explain any discrepancies in your paperwork. The trustee must verify your identity before the meeting, so bring proper proof of your identity and social security number. You should dress like you’re attending an important meeting and be truthful because you’re under oath.
Dealing with Your Car
Keeping a car is one of the most common worries for people filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester. Depending on your situation, there are several ways to deal with your car in a New Hampshire bankruptcy. The current exemption for vehicles is $4,000, which means if you own your car and it has a value of $4,000 or below you can keep it. If the value is above this limit, the trustee may choose to sell the vehicle and give any amount over $4,000 to your creditors. If you don’t own your car, you must make a choice called an “election.” If you want to keep your car after your Manchester bankruptcy and think you can continue making car payments as originally planned to your lender, the lender can offer to let you continue making payments until the loan balance is paid. This is called a reaffirmation agreement. If you have the financial ability and your car’s market value has gone down after receiving the loan, you can redeem your vehicle by paying current market value in a single payment instead of the loan balance. If these options won’t work for you, you’re facing mileage fees on a leased car, or the car needs expensive repairs, you can give up or surrender the vehicle, which means you can walk away owing nothing.
New Hampshire Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Manchester
New Hampshire Means Test
Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester can greatly help people in extreme financial distress for any number of reasons, but to prevent abuse of the bankruptcy system this relief is not available to just anyone. To figure out if someone is eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to pass a New Hampshire bankruptcy Means Test showing you do not make too much money to qualify for extensive debt forgiveness. The Means Text looks at median income standards, household size and income level, and the household’s expenses to see if you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection or should look at other means of debt relief like Chapter 13.
Median Income Levels for New Hampshire
New Hampshire Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for New Hampshire
New Hampshire Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
New Hampshire Bankruptcy Forms
When filing bankruptcy in Manchester, it’s important to fill out the correct forms. New Hampshire has adopted most of the federal government’s bankruptcy forms, but there are New Hampshire bankruptcy forms that must be filed in certain cases. Only one New Hampshire form is required for every bankruptcy filed in the state – you are required to say the creditor list you gave on your Creditor Matrix bankruptcy form is complete and correct by signing and submitting the District of New Hampshire’s Verification of Creditor Mailing List.
New Hampshire Exemptions
Bankruptcy exemptions determine how much and what types of your property you can keep after filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Granite State. The good news is if you don’t have expensive assets you can, like nearly 96% of Chapter 7 filers, keep all your property. Many exemptions, such as vehicles, set a limit on the value of that item you can keep. Other assets, like unemployment compensation and retirement accounts, are protected no matter how much money is in the account. It’s important not to be modest in claiming your exemptions – there is nothing wrong with wanting to use these protections to your advantage in your Manchester bankruptcy.
A person who has lived in New Hampshire for at least the last 2 years can choose between using the federal bankruptcy exemptions and the New Hampshire bankruptcy exemptions when completing their bankruptcy forms. Though some exemptions are the same in the federal and state guidelines, depending on your financial situation choosing one set of exemptions over the other may protect more of your property when filing bankruptcy in Manchester.