How to draft a simple contract

A contract in its most basic form is a legally binding agreement between two parties. The subject matter and terms of a contract are almost limitless as long as they are not illegal, impossible to fulfil or entered into by a minor or someone without the mental capacity to contract. Contracts do not have to be in writing; however, enforcement of an oral contract can be difficult. A valid contract must contain three elements: an offer, acceptance and consideration. In addition, a written contract must be signed by both parties and dated.

Gather the full names and contact information for the parties along with any necessary legal descriptions, if applicable.

Identify the parties to the contract in the first paragraph as well as the subject matter of the contract. The date should also be included in the first paragraph.

Explain the terms of the contract in more detail in the succeeding paragraphs. Include precise terms such as a description of any property involved, dates of any payments to be made and amounts written out as words, not numbers.

Provide a section for default terms and choice of law in the event of a dispute. Although the hope is that there will not be a need to address a breach of the contract, it is best to plan ahead. If specific steps are to be followed in the event of a default, include them in this section. In addition, specify which state law shall apply in the event of a breach.

Sign and date the contract. You can also choose to sign in front of a notary public or impartial witnesses,.although it is not required to be legal and valid.

Tip

Clearly number the pages to your contract and have each party initial each page. While a contract can be simple, the more specific you make it, the less chance of a dispute down the road.

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About the Author

Renee Booker has been writing professionally since 2009 and was a practicing attorney for almost 10 years. She has had work published on Gadling, AOL's travel site. Booker holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Ohio State University and a Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law.

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