Contract and Other Legal Document Preparation
Many documents used in business, and our daily lives, are thought to hold some binding legal authority. That may not always be true. Many people with the best intentions have decided to write up a contract without understanding the necessary legal requirements for that contract to be legal and binding. At Dagger Law, our attorneys recommend discussing any critical business or personal matters with a lawyer. Speaking with a lawyer clarifies when a contract, or other legal documents such as a Will or Power of Attorney, might be needed. Since many of these documents take on a particular and specific legal form, the work can often be done quickly and for relatively little money.
What is a contract, and when do I need an attorney to prepare one for me?
A contract is: “an agreement between two or more persons (e.g., individuals, corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies or government agencies) to do, or to refrain from doing, a particular thing in exchange for something of value.” The definition feels simple enough until you start to look at a contract how the legal world sees it. Questions arise about what qualifies as an offer.
- Can the acceptance of an offer be implied and never explicitly stated?
- What is meant by a contract having consideration?
- Is there adequate certainty in the contract?
- Is the individual entering into the contract competent?
Looking at these questions can make your head spin. Because contracts aren’t straightforward, an attorney’s knowledge is essential. All of these questions can be answered with confidence when an attorney is involved. In those places where you might be scratching your head (or even worse, guessing), a lawyer will research and provide defensible arguments that create validity in your contract. Who knew something so simple could be so complex?
What about oral contracts?
For the most part, the State of Ohio views written and oral contracts to be the same. There are some important exceptions to this, however. In the following cases, parties must have a written contract to be enforceable. These are typical examples but not exhaustive.
- Prenuptial agreements or contracts between engaged couples settling various questions of property and rights in consideration of marriage
- To answer for someone else’s debt, default, or wrongful act or omission
- The sale of land or any interest in land
- Contracts that will not be entirely performed (by at least one party) within one year
- The executor or administrator of an estate to use his (the executor’s or administrator’s) own estate to pay for damages attributable to the estate in which he is a fiduciary
Looking at the above list might be a little confusing. However, you might have already seen examples in action and not known why it required a written contract. In contracts to answer for “the wrongful act by another,” you are familiar with the example of an auto insurance contract. After all, insurance does agree to answer for your potential negligence behind the wheel of a car. Subsequently, that contract is also particular about the considerations between the policy owner and the insurance company. You need to know how and when that contract covers you!
What are the circumstances that cause a contract to be unenforceable?
As stated above, several things must happen for the contract to be valid. So, it stands to reason that if don’t include the required items (Offer, Acceptance, Consideration, Certainty, and Competency, to name a few), then the contract was never valid. Therefore, it would not be unenforceable. But if a contract has validity, there may still be reasons that the law can’t enforce it. These reasons might include:
- One party was forced to agree to the contract or was under duress.
- The contract itself violated public policy or laws.
- A party misrepresents the agreement and fails to disclose important information.
- The contract will be impossible to complete. For example, if you have a contract to remodel a bathroom in a home. If a tornado hits that home, the contract could be unenforceable. Obviously, it isn’t possible to work on a bathroom that no longer exists.
- The law cannot enforce contracts if the purpose of the contract is illegal. In fact, the term “contract killer” is just a catchy phrase. No actual contract between someone intending to kill for money and the buyer of these services can exist.
- Lack of capacity typically refers to one party not being of legal age to enter into a contract. Likewise, they could be lacking the mental capacity to consent or agree.
What can I expect if someone breaches a contract?
Whether you are the party that breached the contract or are the injured party in the breach, both monetary and equitable remedies could be pursued. These could include:
- Compensatory damages, the intention of which is to restore a party to their position before the breach of contract.
- Liquidation damages are pre-agreed upon compensation for specific breaches of contract.
- Punitive damages enforce punishment on the individual who breached the contract.
- Nominal damages are typically awarded when there is no financial loss in the breach of contract and could be as little as $1
- Restitution damages require that the individual who breached the contract must relinquish any financial gains made through the breach.
Non-monetary remedies may include:
- A specific performance remedy requires the individual to complete the agreed contract. This type of remedy only gets considered when the contract involves a unique item or arrangement. The courts would not use it to ask a plumber to complete a job. Indeed, it is easier to order financial remedies as compensation.
- Contract rescission moves to terminate or cancel the contract.
- Contract reformation allows the individuals to modify portions of the contract.
Don’t see your particular issue listed above? That is no problem! We enjoy a challenge and are happy to assist you with the legal issue that you are facing. Use our convenient Contact Page to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal matter with an attorney.
Will a legal document preparation attorney travel to me, or do I need to come to your offices in either Lancaster or Canal Winchester?
While some meetings will need to occur in our offices, we try to minimize your travel time. We offer two convenient office locations in Lancaster and Canal Winchester, Ohio. Our goal is to reduce the disruption to your life caused by legal issues and conduct most communications or meetings through emails or phone calls. In certain circumstances, we realize that clients can’t reach us, and we may be required to visit your location.
Suppose you retain a Dagger Law attorney to represent you. In that case, they will travel to the necessary court hearings and legal procedures to represent you anywhere in Ohio! Please note that in some instances, the cost to represent your case may require an unusual amount of money due to travel expenses. In such cases, we may recommend using legal representation closer to the location of your case. We are happy to provide referrals in these instances if we are able.
We proudly serve the following communities throughout Central and Southeastern Ohio:
- Fairfield County
- Franklin County
- Hocking County
- Licking County
- Pickaway County
- Baltimore, Ohio
- Buckeye Lake
- Canal Winchester
- Greater Columbus Area
- Lancaster, Ohio
- Newark, Ohio
- other locations nearby
Check out the nearest location to you by clicking Our Locations Page.