Hey there! Your law student is back, and I have something that I really want to discuss. I want to discuss contracts with you. Yes, I know that contracts aren’t sexy but they can really make all of the difference in the world when it comes to something that you really believe in. Gone are the days where you think that you can just go through life on a handshake. If it means something to you, then you owe it to your entire family to get it spelled out in writing. That’s just the way it has to be, really. You can’t just hope for the best. There are really times where you have to expect the worse. That’s hard to swallow, but it’s true.
We would like to think that our family would never hurt us. In many cases, this is absolutely correct. Your family is there to love and support you, to watch over you, and to think the best of you. But when it comes down to money and property, can we really trust our families all of the time? Absolutely not. There comes a point where you’re going to have to make sure that you get things spelled out in wiring.
But what precisely makes a great contract? What makes something turn legal and important? The intention and the wording.
If you aren’t trying to get an attorney involved, then you will want to make sure that you spell out every possible outcome that you can. If you’re starting a business with someone, this means that you want to spell out exactly who is responsible for what, what happens when the business is sold, and what penalties (if any) can there be when someone doesn’t hold up their end of the deal. Who will be paying the taxes? Who will handle the licensing? Who will handle it if the business is made an offer they just can’t refuse? Who gets what rights? Figuring all of this out can be tricky, which is why I always think that you should get a lawyer. The fees that you’ll pay pale in comparison to the bigger fees that you would have to cough up in the event of a lawsuit.
I hate lawsuits, I really do. They have their place, but the truth is that so many lawsuits would be avoided if people focused on great contracts. When it comes to property, a lawyer is an absolutely must. There are just some things that are better left to an attorney to figure out. Who gets what property in the event of a business dissolution is very important.
You want to always make sure that you’re looking through the contract from top to bottom. If there’s a space where someone needs to initial something important, make sure that they do so. It’s very easy for someone to come back and say that they didn’t read that part.
If you sign a contract, you’re agreeing that you read all of it. While it’s true that you could contest the contract in court, this is something that’s going to cost you a lot of money. Having an attorney at that part is a must too, but who really wants to get to that point if they can honestly help it? What you have to do from here is make sure that you know who you are working with, and that they are on the same page as you. If they’re leery of getting their intentions into writing…run.
I’m serious — run. They aren’t ‘seriously trying to give you a fair deal if they’re not willing to get something in writing. That’s just the long and short of it. Why not make sure that you check out your current contracts? If you’re up for renegotiation, I really hope that you’ll take the time to put any new changes into writing. Good luck!