But...would you? Of course not. It costs money to hire an lawyer, just like it costs money to hire a surgeon. You do it because you want the expertise and because you don't want to take chances with your life or your future.
There are companies on TV and on the web that will encourage you to file bankruptcy without an lawyer. Their pitch is that "You can file bankruptcy without an lawyer". That is true, just like you can take the bullet out of your arm by yourself. The bad thing is that these ads give you the impression that it is safe or appropriate to do so.
The truth is: It is NOT safe or appropriate to file bankruptcy without an attorney.
If you need to file bankruptcy, money is tight. I understand. That goes without saying, but it makes no sense to be "penny-wise and pound-foolish". Bankruptcy law is very complicated, with many twists and turns, and with traps for the unwary.
Without an attorney...you could well file a bankruptcy where there is no need, or put your house or car at risk for no reason, or file at the wrong time, or get in trouble for failing to disclose important facts. The list of risks goes on and on.
Think of piloting a steam boat down the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is known for its treacherous sandbars, just under the surface of the water. Mark Twain spoke of them in his books. On the surface, everything looks safe, quite and peaceful....just one wide open stretch of water. But if you hit a sandbar...just under the quiet surface....you steamboat sinks and you likely drown. The point is this. What seems so easy, can have disastrous consequences. Is it possible for you to make it all the way down the Mississippi River without hitting one of the sandbars? Yes, with enough luck, I guess anything is possible.
The question is: Do you want to trust the future of your family to luck? Of course not. That's why you hire an experienced river boat captain. You hire him for his experience and know-how, because he knows where all the sandbars are and how to avoid them, because he is your best guarantee of a good result. You hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer for the same reason.
If you want help with something, you hire a "professional". It's the same with bankruptcy. If you need to file bankruptcy...or think you might...or just need answers...you need to go see a lawyer...and more importantly....you want a lawyer who does nothing but bankruptcy for a living, a lawyer who does bankruptcy full-time and who has tons of experience.
I cannot emphasize that enough: An lawyer who does bankruptcy full-time and who has tons of experience.
Remember the adage: You get what you pay for. It's the same with bankruptcy. Instead of asking if you can file bankruptcy without an lawyer, you should be asking: Which lawyer should I go to?
Non-Attorney Bankruptcy Preparation Agencies:
There are many non-attorney agencies which offer to prepare your Bankruptcy forms for a nominal fee. They often dub themselves as "document preparation services" or "independent paralegals" or "typing services". These non-attorney agencies are not allowed, pursuant to state law, to practice law without a law license. This means they cannot offer you any legal advice, or even ask you the appropriate questions, in order to properly prepare your Bankruptcy forms. As a result, Bankruptcy forms prepared by such agencies may not be sufficient to accomplish your goals.
Further if such agencies offer no legal advice, there is no value to the services they provide, beyond data entry. And, as explained above, there are many planning opportunities and legal strategies that a debtor could take advantage of. An agency which is merely filling out forms cannot help in this regard. Further, such agencies, by definition, offer no assistance once the requisite forms are filed, and do not accompany the debtor to the Section 341 First Meeting of the Creditors.