How To Read A Contract Closely Before Signing It

Before You Sign a Contract, Talk to a Washington Contract and Litigation Attorney

Contracts are one of the most important things that we sign in our lives, whether a business contract, a lease agreement, or an insurance policy. Yet vast numbers of Americans simply flip or scroll to the end of the document and sign and date contracts without a second thought. It’s a mistake that can lead to major misunderstandings, financial pitfalls, bad decisions, and even litigation.

How can you avoid signing a contract that will cause you heartache down the road? The simple answer is to make sure that you understand every word of it along with all of its implications.

Here are our six best tips for reading a contract before you sign:

  • Request time alone with your contract. It’s amazing that people are often asked to sign contracts on the spot, such as when they are buying a car. It is absolutely okay to say, “I’d like to look this over before signing,” and take the contract home. In some cases, as when buying a house, you might want to request a contract to review before the closing date.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If something isn’t clear, say something. An unclear contract often leads to trouble down the line, especially if you need to go to court and the document must be interpreted by a judge. Too many individuals and businesses have lost time and money simply because the contract they signed didn’t say exactly what it meant to say.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for changes. Contracts are not set in stone until you sign them. If you don’t like a parameter in the contract, for example, a deadline or a sum of money or certain wording, you can absolutely ask to have it changed or negotiate with the contract writer. This is a normal part of the process and you should not be shy about what you want the contract to look like.
  • Think about what might be missing. It’s easy to look for clarity and to negotiate the terms contained in the contract already, but it’s harder to realize what is missing from the contract altogether. After you’ve read through the entire document, think about what hasn’t been covered and what is most important to you regarding the business relationship it concerns.
  • Keep a signed copy. Having your contract on hand as you begin your business partnership is vital. If you don’t want the clutter of a hard copy, just scan your contract after you sign it and keep a copy on your computer for reference.
  • Consider getting the assistance of a lawyer. Not all contracts need the close eye of an attorney. An agreement for your cell phone plan doesn’t need a professional lookover in the vast majority of cases, but a business contract that could have serious future consequences should absolutely be run by an attorney with specific experience in the business world.

Review Your Contact With An Attorney At Your Side

If you’ve determined that the contract you are considering is worth the once-over by a Washington business attorney, Blado Kiger Bolan is here to help. We assist individuals and businesses of all sizes with contract writing, review, and negotiation. To ask a question, meet one of our attorneys, or schedule an appointment, please call us today at (253) 470-2356 or fill out our short online contact form.

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