Going to an attorney every time your business needs a legal document can be overwhelming — and costly. To avoid all the legalese and legal fees, use Incfile's Contract Template Library to find dozens of free legal documents for your small business.
Below are 12 of the most popular legal templates for small businesses available in our Contract Template Library.
1. LLC Operating Agreement
Used by Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), an operating agreement outlines the rules LLC members need to abide by. It also details the organization’s operation, management structure, and ownership share. For an operating agreement to be binding, it must be signed by all LLC members.
2. Terms of Service Agreement
If you have a website, you must add your terms of service (TOS) to your site. Often, web visitors will need to click to agree to the TOS before they can register for an account, or they must purchase a product or service. Terms of service agreements detail the responsibilities of the provider (your business) and the rules the user (your customer) must adhere to.
3. Service Agreement
A service agreement is an incredibly useful document, especially for business owners working with vendors or suppliers. This document is a contract between a customer and a service provider outlining the relationship between the two parties. It will typically include the scope of service, deliverables, and a schedule of when the service should occur. It may also include a payment schedule and a start and end date.
4. Non-Disclosure Agreement
If your business uses proprietary designs or methods or if it deals with intellectual property, you might need a non-disclosure agreement. NDAs are confidentiality agreements that protect your sensitive information and keep private matters private. An NDA is used between parties during negotiations, whether it's for employment, taking on a new partner, or exploring joint ventures.
6. Consulting Agreement
As a business owner, you'll likely seek the insight of an expert in a particular field, also known as a consultant. Often, consultants are independent contractors, and it's important that you have a very clear contractual agreement laid out before you begin your partnership. A consulting agreement is much like a service agreement in that it lays out the terms of compensation, the scope of work, and the termination terms.
7. Partnership Agreement
If you're operating a business with multiple owners, you'll want to have a partnership agreement. Similar to an operating agreement, a partnership agreement lays out the organization's structure. It also details the duties of individual partners and establishes the allocation of ownership and distribution of profits. For businesses with two or more owners, it's a must.
8. Organization Meeting Minutes
Organizational minutes provide critical records from high-level business meetings. This documentation is important when key decisions are being made between partners or stakeholders. Recording your meeting minutes can be time-consuming and tedious, but doing so can help you avoid issues down the road in case of a dispute. Our organization meeting template makes it easy to take minutes and refer back to them when the time comes.
9. Bill of Sale
A bill of sale is basically a receipt for a high-priced item. It shows the transfer of the item from the seller to the buyer and indicates that the buyer has taken ownership of that item. This document can be a follow-up to a sales agreement and shows that the transaction has been fulfilled on both sides.
10. Employment Agreement
This sometimes gets confused with an employment offer letter (which can also be found in the template library), but the two are distinct documents with different purposes. An offer letter is just that — it makes a job offer to a potential employee. An employment agreement acts as a contract between employer and employee detailing the terms and conditions of employment.
11. Employee Termination Letter
After you've made an offer and created an employee agreement, you might find things aren't working out with an employee. In that case, you would need to have an employee termination letter. A letter of termination is used when you need to end a relationship with an employee who has not lived up to their employment agreement. This document ensures you've followed labor laws and have appropriately documented the reasons for termination.
12. Demand Letter
There may come a time when an unfortunate situation arises and a vendor or provider fails to fulfill their end of a deal. Or, you may encounter someone who has used your services and has refused to pay. In this case, a demand letter is needed.
A demand letter is a final notice to the debtor before they face potential legal action. This letter informs them what services or monetary compensation is owed and why, plus when and how to provide those services or payments. The letter will include a due date and can be used as evidence in court if payment is not received.
When to Use a Legal Template
When starting your business, you may not realize just how often legal documents are necessary. Visiting an attorney every time you need a common contract can eat up time and money. That's why legal templates are incredibly valuable, thanks to their ease of use and potential cost savings.
There are many places you can find legal templates online, but be aware that not all of them are created equal. You'll want to find a repository that best meets your needs, whether that's an all-in-one, comprehensive template library or a place where you can access or purchase templates a la carte as you need them. Incfile offers the best of both worlds.
At Incfile, you can purchase full access to our premium templates in our Contract Template Library for an added fee of $150 when you sign up for our Silver or Gold business formation package. If you choose the Platinum package, our templates are included at no extra cost.
If you aren't ready to choose a package, you can always browse our free templates, many of which we've highlighted above. Best of all, with Incfile, you can rest assured that our documents are lawyer-approved. And if you need additional support, you can work with one of our legal experts for an additional cost of $199.
Legal Template Types
These aren't hard and fast types, but you can typically group the templates by the intended action or purpose.
Employee Management Templates
These are templates that relate to a business's staff, including an employment offer letter, a consulting or contractor agreement, an employment agreement, or a termination letter.
Corporate Management Templates
These include high-level documents that would be useful to a founder or CEO, such as corporate resolutions, founder agreements, operating agreements, and organizational meeting minutes.
Business Management Templates
These templates have to do with the ongoing management and operation of the business and may include privacy policies, terms of service, non-disclosure agreements, sales agreements, and much more.
Some sites will sell access to packages containing a mix of related templates, but it can be difficult to predict exactly which documents you're going to need in the future.
Can I Create My Own Legal Documents?
Yes and no. Unless you're an attorney, you wouldn't want to write and create your own legal document or contract from scratch. This would require both expertise and deep knowledge of contract law. However, you certainly can build your own legal documents with the use of lawyer-approved templates.
The templates we provide have all been approved by legal experts, so when you use them, you can rest assured your documents are legal and binding.
Commonly Asked Questions About Legal Templates
What Is the Best Website for Free Legal Forms?
Always be careful when searching for free legal forms online. Make sure the templates you choose are lawyer-approved so your documents are completely accurate and binding. You can trust Incfile's Contract Template Library, packed with dozens of common and valuable templates designed for business owners.
How Do I Create a Legal Template?
You typically must download the template you need and then plug in your own personal and/or business details. Once it's complete, you can save it and print it, and it will be a binding legal document.
Do My Legal Documents Need to Be Reviewed by a Lawyer?
If you've downloaded a lawyer-approved template, you likely won't need to have it reviewed. However, if your situation is outside the scope of the template or if you have doubts, we suggest seeking the advice of an attorney. At Incfile, we've helped millions of business owners save on attorney fees by providing legal consultation sessions for $199.
Wendi is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, IN, with over a decade of experience writing for a variety of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to nonprofit. When she isn't working on solutions for her clients, she can be found spending time with her kids and husband, working in the garden or doing more writing (of the fiction variety).