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If you are ever entering a business transaction with someone else, and it requires a contract, make sure you get that contract in writing. Do not fall prey to the lure of the handshake deal or the verbal contract. You may just be creating a lot of issues for yourself down the road.

Sometimes, you have no choice. With a real estate sale, for instance, you have to get it in writing. There’s no other way to transfer ownership. If someone tries to get you to take a cash sale with no exchange of paperwork, it’s a scam. These deals will always have a paper trail.

With other types of contracts, though, you don’t always technically need to write anything down. Maybe you’re starting a company with someone else, for instance. You can just begin working together without agreeing on the details, or you can sign a written partnership agreement that lays out things like pay scales, decision-making and ownership percentages. Having that written contact helps a lot if there is ever a dispute.

A similar issue could arise if you work with another company; maybe they allow you to use their land, for example, or maybe they become a supplier for your company. With no paperwork in place, you run a lot of risks should things go south. Taking the time to get the agreement in writing is absolutely worth it.

If you do decide to sign a contract with someone else under any circumstances, it’s important to know what it contains, what options you have and what legal steps to take.

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