You're an entrepreneur and business owner (but probably not a lawyer), so it can be both surprising and intimidating when you start digging in to research all the legally binding documentation you'll need to make sure your company is covered.
Sooner or later, you'll probably need to enact a variety of contracts that detail employment terms, protect your ideas when you hire outside freelancers or outline partnership agreements (if you start your company with a partner).
There are countless situations like these in which you'll be called upon to produce a contract, but it can quickly get expensive to enlist a lawyer to draft each one of these frequently used documents. Of course, there are several websites that have free generic forms available, but it's hard to know whether these sources are trustworthy or if they've even been developed by a lawyer.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this common problem: Incfile has compiled a Contract Library that has over 25 documents to help you with the most common situations you'll encounter.
For just $150, our Silver and Gold package clients get unlimited access to these contracts, saving you from legal fees since they're pre-made and ready to use. If you chose our Platinum Package, you already have access to all of these professional documents at no additional fee.
Note that the Contract Library is not available to the public, and the option to purchase is available when you're placing your Incfile order.
Here's another great option for you to consider: for a one-time flat fee of $199, you can work directly (one-on-one) with a network attorney to customize the protection you may need for your unique situation. Most lawyers charge hundreds of dollars an hour, so you'll quickly discover what an advantage this service will be.
Our Incfile Contract Library will also give your company peace of mind since you won't have to rely on free printable contracts posted by disreputable websites. A bad contract can cost you thousands of dollars in settlement fees or quite possibly even sink your business if it doesn't protect you adequately. Instead, for a small expense, you can talk to a lawyer who has your best interests in mind and skip the uncertainty of wondering if you signed an air-tight contract that will hold up over time.
After much research and professional input, we have compiled a list of the most commonly requested and useful contracts that business owners will need access to.
Often simply referred to by its abbreviation, an MOU is an agreement between two parties outlining a mutually shared plan to move forward with a more formalized and detailed arrangement.
Unlike a final executed contract, an MOU is not legally binding but rather expresses the understanding that both parties are in agreement with the scope and terms of any final and legally binding agreement. A Memorandum of Understanding allows each party to clearly state their objectives and expectations in advance of moving forward with any final agreement.
2. Release of Liability
This legal agreement between two parties waives the right of holding an individual, group or company liable for any injuries or damages associated with a possibly dangerous activity. These are most often applied in situations of physical activity or the use or renting of vehicles, such as jet skis, scooters or snowmobiles.
When a party signs this agreement, they are acknowledging that there are risks involved and that they will not hold the other party offering the service liable if they were to sustain an injury.
3. Operating Agreement
Used by Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), an operating agreement outlines the rules LLC members will need to abide to as well as the organization’s operation, management structure and ownership share. For an operating agreement to be binding, it must be signed by all the LLC members.
4. Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
NDAs are confidentiality agreements between two parties sharing sensitive information or discussing matters that should remain private and not be communicated with other people or organizations. An NDA is often used between parties when discussing terms of negotiation, sharing intellectual property assets or exploring potential joint ventures.
Signing an NDA forbids those involved from releasing any information. It’s a document that basically asks you to keep a secret whether it’s an upcoming product release, financial disclosure, or possible invention or patent.
Privacy policies are used to establish trust between a business and a client who may need to share sensitive personal information while making a purchase, including financial information and shipping address.
6. Partnership Agreement
Much like an operating agreement, a partnership agreement is a document that sets how the organization will be structured, designates the duties of the partners and establishes the allocation of ownership, the distribution of profits and the assignment of losses and expenses under two or more people.
7. Demand Letter
This is a notice that requests payment on services or sales that remain outstanding. This letter acts as a final notice to the debtor before they face potential legal action. A demand letter informs the debtor how much is owed, includes a description of why the money is owed, requests payment by a certain due date and can be used as evidence in court if payment is not received.
8. Employment Offer Letter
Also known as a job offer letter, it is an official invitation from an employer to a job candidate outlining the salary, benefit eligibility, job title, job description, signing bonus, bonus plan and start date.
The employment offer letter may also include a confidentiality agreement and a non-compete clause. The end of the letter will include a section where the candidate must sign and return to officially accept the position.
9. Service Agreement
This is a contract between a customer and a service provider outlining the relationship between the two parties. On the part of the service provider, this agreement may include the scope of service, deliverables and a schedule of service. For the client, the service agreement can cover payment schedule as well as the start and end date of the agreement.
10. Consulting Agreement
Much like a service agreement, a consulting agreement is between a client who's seeking the advice and professional expertise of a consultant. This agreement establishes the terms of compensation, scope of the work and termination terms.
There are different types of consultants that a business can hire. Examples include: legal, tax, financial, marketing and information technology.
11. 83(B) Election Form
A Section 83(b) Election is a document provided to the IRS to inform and request taxation on a property that is at risk of forfeiture and was received as payment for services. An 83(b) Election could substantially decrease the tax burden due to the lower value of the at-risk property.
This election can be made by submitting a short letter outlining the fair market value of the property received and any restrictions on the property. The form must be filed with the IRS within 30 days after the date of the property’s transfer.
12. General Corporate Resolution
A general corporate resolution is a formal document clearly outlining the decisions made by a corporation’s board members or directors. The resolution may cover the corporation’s finances, structure and other matters being discussed and the final decision.
General Corporate Resolutions must be documented and become part of the corporate record. The document should include the date of the meeting, what was discussed and the decision made. A corporate resolution is a legal document and must include the signatures of those who voted, including LLC members or the board of directors.
13. Employment Agreement
Though often confused or used interchangeably with an offer letter, the two agreements are different. An employment agreement is a contract between the employer and employee detailing the conditions of employment as well as termination of employment. Unlike an offer letter, an employment agreement is a legal contract and not just an invitation to accept employment.
14. Terms of Service
These agreements tend to be long, complex and text heavy and are found when using a service such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and websites throughout the internet. Whenever you sign up for an account, you will be given the company's “Terms of Service” (TOS) and will be required to click the box to agree to the terms before being able to continue.
Terms of service agreements list what the provider is responsible for and the rules that the user must adhere to. Users that don’t follow a company’s TOS may be dropped or suspended from their accounts. For example, making threats or impersonating another member’s account is a breach of the company’s TOS and can result in temporary or permanent suspension.
15. Employee Termination Letter
This is a formal notification made by an employer to an employee notifying them that their services are no longer required. An employee termination letter should include when the termination will take effect — whether it’s immediate or within a set time, in which case a termination date should be included.
16. Letter of Intent for a Business Venture
A letter of intent (LOI) is an outline that states the commitments made between two parties planning to do business together. The letter should include any obligations or assurances made from one party to the other, including timelines, financing or payment requirements and other terms that may be part of a partnership or business deal.
Most LOIs come with an NDA or confidentiality agreement. The LOI is used to gain an understanding of what one party may be seeking from another and is often a starting point to discussions that may or may not lead to a final contract or legally binding agreement.
17. Independent Contractor Agreement
This type of agreement allows a business to hire a contractor for a specific job or service. It is also known as a 1099 agreement due to the IRS form that needs to be completed by a contractor. Unlike a full-time employee, where taxes are deducted directly from wages, an independent contractor is responsible for and must report and pay their own taxes.
An independent contractor agreement will identify the business and the independent contractor. It will also cover a set period of time with a clear compensation and payment schedule. It should also clearly describe what the work entails and when it’s due.
18. Sales Agreement
A sales agreement is a contract that describes the terms of a purchase. The two parties involved consist of the buyer and the seller. A sales agreement is more than just a receipt detailing payment. A sales agreement document will include the name and contact information of both the seller and the buyer, delivery details, deposit, payment amount(s) and schedule and warranty information regarding the condition of the product or goods sold.
19. Joint Venture Agreement
Unlike forming a partnership with joint ownership, a joint venture is when two businesses work together to reach the same goal or collaborate on a specific job or business opportunity. Joint venture agreements are a way in which companies and corporations can pool their resources and share risk.
Joint ventures can be for a limited time with the aim of achieving a mutually beneficial objective and do not involve creating a new or combined business entity. A joint venture agreement will often cover the sharing of income and expenses. It will also highlight the percentage of ownership.
20. Collaboration Agreement
A collaboration agreement is a contract between two or more businesses — or people — where they work together on a project, each contributing their own expertise to meet a common goal.
An example of a collaboration agreement may include software or app development where parties with different sets of expertise join to create a digital product. Another example is a video production company entering into an agreement with a sound studio or distribution company.
21. Cease & Desist Letter (Trademark Infringement)
This type of letter goes out to individuals or companies that are in breach of trademark rights. It communicates that the legal rights of the sender of the letter are being violated by the recipient and all trademark infringement action must stop or else legal action will be taken.
A cease and desist letter will describe the alleged infringement and can be used as evidence if the problem escalates and legal action is required.
22. Founder Agreement
This is an agreement between the founders of a company that is established at the early stages of a company’s formation. This agreement helps address potential questions and issues that may arise once the company is formed, including goals and company strategy, transfer of ownership, ownership structure, dispute resolution and decision-making policies as well as management and confidentiality obligations.
23. Non-Compete Agreement
Often found as a clause in employee contracts, this type of agreement is meant to prevent former employees from working for a competing company for a set period of time. The purpose of the clause is to keep former employees from divulging company or trade secrets. The clause can cover a specific industry and market or geographic region.
24. Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement
An IP assignment agreement is used by companies to safeguard patents, inventions, copyrights or other forms of intellectual property, including trade secrets. The agreement designates ownership of the intellectual property to the company and protects these intangible assets should they be misappropriated by a current or former employee or assumed by another organization.
25. Website Linking Agreement
This agreement provides a set of terms that would allow another company to link to the licensee’s website. Such an agreement may also permit the use of the licensee’s company logo and other trademarked information on the licensor’s site.
With resources like this, our Contract Library is sure to be a necessary and valuable resource when you need to hire employees, outsource projects, take on partners and more.
If you would like to know more about how to use these contracts or how to connect with our network attorneys, just contact us today. We've helped thousands of business owners just like you with their legal needs, and we are excited to talk with you! Incfile isn't just here to help you start and manage your business — we want to assist you with any changes you need and help develop any contracts that become necessary during the evolution of your company. As your business expands and grows, we are here for you every step of the way!
Peter Mavrikis is an author and editor with over 25 years of experience in publishing. He has worked as the Editorial Director for Barron’s Educational Series, as well as Kaplan Test Prep, where he ran the test prep, foreign language, and study guide divisions. Peter has also written several books on history, exploration, science, and technology.