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Why contracts should be in writing

While verbal contracts may be valid in California and other states, they may be harder to enforce. This is because it is easy for people to forget what they agreed to or to simply claim that they don’t remember what they agreed to. If a party to a verbal contract dies or can’t be found, there is almost no way to verify that an agreement exists.

Certain types of deals must be in writing

If you are selling or transferring your interest in a piece of land to another person, the terms of the deal must be put into writing. The same is generally true if you sell any other item that is valued at $500 or more. Any contract that will be in effect for more than a year must typically be in writing to be considered a valid agreement. Finally, the terms of a prenuptial agreement or similar arrangement must be put into writing before they can take effect.

The components of a valid written contract

A contract will likely be deemed to be invalid if it doesn’t comply with statute of frauds requirements. To be in compliance a contract must identify all the parties to the deal. It must also list what is being bought or sold and the types of consideration each party will receive. Generally speaking, the party that buys a product will receive that item while the seller will receive cash or similar compensation.

Promissory estoppel may apply in some cases

Promissory estoppel may be invoked if problems arise based on a verbal promise or some other guarantee that wasn’t expressly put into writing. As long as the promise is deemed to be reasonable, you could be entitled to damages.

Prior to signing a contract, you may want to have a business law attorney review its terms. This may help to ensure that you aren’t signing a deal that cannot be enforced for any reason. If a contract dispute arises, your attorney may represent you in court or during settlement talks.