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Not only are death and taxes certain, it is certain you will enter into a contractual relationship within your lifetime. Saying contracts are a large part of modern society is an under statement. Contractual relationships are regularly created whether they are verbal or ultimately reduced to writing. Most individuals take pride in drafting their own contracts believing that, since they speak the language, there is no need to pay counsel in order to reduce the words of their agreement to writing. So they neglect retaining counsel until future disputes arise.

One problem occurs when business contracts are drafted without the assistance of a lawyer and accountant. For example, there are 20 considerations utilized by the IRS in determining whether a laborer is a "contract laborer" or an "employee" for the purposes of tax withholding. Can you name five of them?

Another problem with written contracts is that they are often drafted by involved parties, or ignored altogether, during the period of business relationships known as the, "honeymoon phase." The positive excitement and anticipation of project success during this phase precludes parties from reducing negative contingencies to writing. The mind set seems to be, "why contract to avoid possible problems that are non-existent?" Because of the universal truth -- there's never a problem until there's a problem. And problem resolution can be costly.

Adding to the concern, many existing contracts contain language and terms that are unfamiliar to the average lay person when they are painting the picture they will have to live with during the term of the relationship. This makes it more difficult to anticipate provisions that could lead to problematic scenarios, especially for the inexperienced. Unfamiliarity with terms and conditions also complicates the process of resolving disputes arising from future disagreements. Important statutes of limitation are different which restricts the time in which a dispute to a contract can be formally resolved.

When to know whether to seek counsel on a contract is easy -- if you are willing to lose under the terms of any venture and walk away, then hiring an attorney and accountant would be unnecessary. However, if a provision were broken in which you would seek counsel on in the future, it is always recommended that you have counsel look at the contract before entering into it. Not only does having counsel during the contracting phase help you with the document itself, it also helps you acquire objective guidance focused solely on your best interests.

The philosophy of when to seek counsel on your contracts is summed up by a sign on a dental office wall, "Do I need to floss all of my teeth?" The dentist's answer, "No. Only the ones you want to keep."


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