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. 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. Often, if you do this for a first draft so that you can be sure you know what you want to get in the contract, you can then substitute your words with legalese, and you’ll have a professional contract without the need for law school courses.
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.
1. Who are the parties involved in this agreement? Name them specifically.
2. What type of goods or services are being exchanged between the parties? Be sure to include any materials that are needed to fulfill the contract in the contract price.
3. Date on which the contract goes into effect, and how long the contract will be enforceable. This could mean including an end date.
4. What is the payment required for these goods or services? The acceptable methods of payment and amounts due. If not all due on the front end, what dates or conditions define the payments? What if a payment is late? Are there fees and interest?
5. What happens if either party fails to live up to his/her end of the agreement?
6. What are the responsibilities of each party in performing the contract. Be specific so no confusion arises in the performance of the contract.
7. 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? What benefits will the employee receive? In what ways can the contract be terminated?
By answering these questions, you will be well on your way to creating a contract that is thorough, and that protects all parties equally.
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