Why Write a Contract?

There are a couple of reasons to write a contract:  One is that you may have to, and the other is that it is often a good idea. A contract requires four things:  an offer, an acceptance, consideration, and legality (do not make a contract to do something illegal). The Statute of Frauds requires that certain kinds of contracts be in written form and signed by those bound by the contract in order to be enforced.  These include:  marriage, contracts that cannot be completed in one year, land transactions (real estate contracts), executor contracts, goods, and surety.  (They can be remembered with the mnemonic MY LEGS.) Just because a situation does not require a written contract, you may want to have one anyway.   If you are shooting the breeze about doing business together with someone, go ahead and write it down.  Then you both have a record to refer back to, and specified remedies if there is a breach of contract. Furthermore, if you do not understand the terms of a contract, find an attorney who does, and who can explain them to you.  Do not just rely on the other party’s lawyer, but get your own legal counsel who […] Read More

Does A Commercial Lease Have To Be Witnessed?

Commercial leases are usually for more than one year.  They are typically longer than residential leases because of build-out expenses (which you do not normally have with residential leases).  So, does a commercial lease have to be witnessed? Yes.  According to the Statute of Frauds, if an agreement is for more than one year it has to be witnessed…but it does not have to be notarized. You may want legal counsel to help ensure you get what you think you are getting in a contract, and also so that the agreement is properly executed and enforceable.   Read More

Cost of a Contract

What does a lawsuit cost?  Money.  No job too small, no fee too big.  Often it is cheaper to hire an attorney to review a contract before it is signed than to represent you in a lawsuit after the ink is dry. According to the Statute of Frauds, certain contracts must be in writing.  Those include:  real estate contracts, any contract that cannot be performed within one year, a lease of more than a year, if you take someone else’s debt, and for a sale of goods for more than $500. If you do not understand the terms of a contract, find an attorney who does, and who can explain them to you.  Do not just rely on the other party’s lawyer, but get your own legal counsel who only represents your interest. You cannot assume things are right.  If you want to protect yourself, you have to take care of business.  Sometimes that means hiring your own lawyer. Read More

Legal Ground & the Statute of Frauds

The Statute of Frauds says that for certain types of contracts to be enforced, they have to be in writing.  Real Estate is one of them. With Real Estate transactions, you have to prove that a contract exists and have it in writing.  A handbag of cancelled checks for payments on the property might not do it.  (And big checks could just be prepaid rent payments.)  What does that check say?  Is there a memo that shows a written agreement?  Or is there writing of any kind, including emails?  Or were you making highly philanthropic donations without realizing your own inflated altruism?  Even if you do have a sketchy paper trail to piece a contract together, it is still going to mean litigation, and that is going to be more expensive than paying an attorney to write up a proper contract to start with. If you are paying for a piece of real estate and expect to actually own it, make sure there is a real estate contract in writing, unless you are being hyper-charitable without the tax write-off.  Do not get caught on the wrong side of the Statute of Frauds without legal ground to stand on.  Have a […] Read More