Updated February 6, 2019
You won’t lose all of your assets when filing for bankruptcy in New Hampshire. You can use New Hampshire’s bankruptcy exemptions to protect property you’ll need to work and maintain a household, such as equity in a home and car, household furnishings, clothing, and a retirement account.
Your other choice—using the federal bankruptcy exemptions—could provide more protection, depending on the assets you own.
Some states, including New Hampshire, allow residents to choose between the state and federal bankruptcy exemptions. You can’t protect property by using exemptions from both lists—you must pick the system that will work best for you. If you elect to use New Hampshire’s state exemptions, the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions will be available to you, too.
Here are some of the more common exemptions in New Hampshire. When reviewing them, you’ll want to keep these things in mind:
480:1 - Equity in a homestead property or mobile home (manufactured home) up to $120,000.
511:2(XVI) - Equity in one automobile up to $4,000.
511:2(XVIII) – Up to $1,000 of any property, plus up to $7,000 of any exemption amount not used for jewelry, furniture, fuel, books, tools of the trade, or a vehicle.
511:2 - 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; one hog and one pig; six sheep and their fleeces; one cow, yoke of oxen, or horse when required for farming, and hay up to four tons; domestic fowl up to $300; church pew; jewelry up to $500; and burial plot or lot
512:21 - Proceeds for lost or destroyed exempt property, up to $5,000.
11 U.S.C. § 522 - 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).
11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n) - IRAS and Roth IRAs to maximum (amount changes).
100A:26 - Public employees.
103:18 - Police officers.
102:23 - Firefighters.
512:21(IV) - Pensions or bounty money.
512.2 - ERISA-qualified, IRA and Roth IRA retirement accounts.
167:25 - Public assistance; aid to blind, aged, and disabled.
281A:52 - Workers' compensation.
282A:159 - Unemployment compensation.
Tools of Trade
511:2 - 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.
402:69 - Firefighters' aid insurance.
418:17 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.
512:21 - Homeowners' insurance proceeds up to $5,000.
304A:25 - Business partnership property (particular property).
Add any applicable federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
Some people can keep all assets, but that isn’t always true. Here’s what will happen to nonexempt property:
You’ll learn more about Chapter 7 and 13 in Which Type of Bankruptcy is Right for Me?
State exemptions are used for more than just bankruptcy. You can use them to protect your property and wages in a collection action. Here is New Hampshire’s wage exemption (wage exemptions can’t be used in bankruptcy pursuant to In re Damast, 136 B.R. II (Bankr. D. N.H. 1991):
512:21 - 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.
Learn more in Debt Collectors & Debt Collection.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in New Hampshire, but not all. Specific exemptions could have qualification requirements, and amounts might have changed since this list was last updated. Check the New Hampshire Revised Statutes or with a local bankruptcy lawyer.
To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, the state exemption system, and the homestead exemption rules, read Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?