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You may have seen contracts with tons of provisions and definitions, all of which are trying to say simple things in the most complicated way possible. Contract lawyers tend to write things this way in an effort to protect all parties, but sometimes it just makes more sense to break the contract down to its basic components. The best way to go about this is to just ask yourself some questions, then use the answers to formulate the provisions of your contract.

If this is an employment contract, what is the term of the contract? What kind of work is expected from the employee? What is the compensation? The rights and obligations of each party should be laid out in specific language that leaves little room for interpretation. If you want delivery on the 15th of each month, use the specific number instead of writing, "mid-month".

If you and the other party agree to a new term or decide to change an existing term in the agreement, be sure to add a written amendment to the contract rather than relying on an oral agreement. A court may or may not accept the oral agreement as part of the contract. If you want to pay half up front and the other half in equal installments during the life of the contract, state that, as well as the terms under which you will release payment.

For example if you contract with someone to paint your business offices, you might want a provision stating that your regular payments are contingent upon a certain number of rooms being painted to your satisfaction. Whenever possible, list dates, requirements and methods of payment cash, check, credit.

Often when entering a business contract, the other party will gain access and insight into your business practices and possible trade secrets. If you do not want the other party sharing this information, you should include a clause that binds the other party from disclosing your business information or information included in the contract to other parties.

However, you could not write a contract with the following terms: This contract is unenforceable, even if both parties have agreed to it. The consideration should be adequate in a fair contract. Ensure all parties are in agreement.

For a contract to be legal, an offer must be made and accepted. Smith will sell Ms. Come to an agreement in good faith. All parties must mutually assent to the terms of the contract. This means that they agree to the contract without being forced or coerced to do so. All parties should be treated fairly and honestly. Start with basic information.

Write the date at the top of the page, then write the names or company names of all parties in this format: Detail the exchange of consideration. In clear, readable language that is easy to understand, describe what services or goods are being exchanged. In some cases, money may be exchanged for these goods or services. In other cases, a bartering of services or goods may be exchanged. Use short, clear sentences broken into short paragraphs.

Provide a numbered heading for each paragraph to make references easier. When possible, use plain language, rather than legalese. If the parties go to court, the judge will decide the case based on how the contract would be interpreted by the average person. Write explicitly what one party is promising to deliver and what the other agrees to pay or do in exchange. Specify who will perform the services, for whom, where, when, for how long and for what consideration.

For example, you could write a contract with these terms: If you are selling real estate, provide a legal description of the property and its exact location. You may wish to have a lawyer or real estate agent help you with this.

Legal descriptions of real estate have very specific requirements that can be difficult to provide on your own. Use addenda when necessary. You can add an addendum to your contract if you forgot to detail something in the contract or if the details of some part of the contract would be cumbersome to include in the contract itself.

Addenda can be added at the time of the contract or afterwards as long as all parties to the contract sign off on or initial the addendum. A confidentiality clause can protect a small business from having trade secrets exposed. Include a clause describing how the contract will be terminated. Specify how long the contract will last. For example, if Jane Smith was contracted to copy-edit pages for ABC Publishing by August 3, , but only completed pages, this would likely be considered a minor breach.

Because Jane Smith has completed a substantial amount of the work and appears to have made a good faith effort to fulfill the contract, it is unlikely that ABC Publishing could completely nullify the contract.

However, they probably could be eligible for some sort of remedy, such as paying a lower rate. If the contract is for a small business, consider adding a mediation or arbitration clause, which is substantially less expensive and time-consuming than a court trial. Make sure the contract is in accordance with the law. Research which state and federal laws might pertain to the contract so you can ensure that it is legally enforceable. For example, if the contract controls a construction project for a government body, the contract will need a clause stating the contractor will not discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religion or nationality.

These contracts are considered void, which means they are as if they never existed. Void contracts cannot be enforced and are not subject to remedies or damages. Illegal services also cannot be contracted. For example, if you hire a blackjack dealer to run a blackjack table in a state where gambling is illegal, this contract is void.

Even if both you and the dealer agree to the terms, the service is illegal, and thus you cannot contract for it. Reserve the last page for the parties to sign and date the contract. Provide spaces for each name and spaces for the date the contract is signed. When the contract is ready, send it to the other party to look over. The offer may be accepted or rejected as-is.

It is also common for the other party to respond with a counteroffer, or changes that should be made before the contract is accepted. Legally, the other party is obligated to respond "within a reasonable amount of time.

You can revoke the offer rather than accept it. Negotiate until an agreement has been reached.


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Putting your agreements in writing helps keep your business relationships in good standing. A General Contract for Services is a useful tool whether you provide services . How to Write A Contract. Sometimes the best way to go about writing a contract is to keep it simple. You may have seen contracts with tons of provisions and definitions, all of which are trying to say simple things in the most complicated way possible.

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A Letter of Agreement is one kind of freelance writing contract; it is a bit less formal than a contract and details the arrangement of the job. As promised, I have set out below a description of the services that I, Your Name, ("Editor") will provide to you, Client Name ("Author"), together with our agreed-upon fees. Sample Letter of Agreement The purpose of this letter of agreement is to outline the scope of the writing services that [FREELANCER NAME] will perform for Smithee & Company. Services Location: Pennsylvania Avenue Kansas City, MO, United States.