The Value of Written Agreements, even between friends, spouses, and your children
How many times do you find yourself looking into the eyes of someone you love or at least care for and wonder how it is they think they heard you say that? Usually the things that you and this loved one disagree about are not terribly significant. Misunderstanding is a part of life for everyone, and perhaps a way of life for some people.
Certainly none of us would expect to buy a car or a house without a written agreement. It’s part of doing business with strangers that we are used to and comfortable with.
With loved ones, we can be reluctant to suggest putting something in writing because it feels like we’re making some matter of the heart a business deal. Nevertheless, getting beyond this feeling of discomfort can be useful.
Are you going to buy a house with a loved one and put all of the money down? What are your expectations when the house sells? If the loan goes into default? What are your loved one’s expectations?
Do you have a child who is about to begin driving a car? What are your expectations? What are their expectations? What are the consequences if one party doesn’t live up to expectations?
Do you want to loan a friend money? (Perhaps more accurately, does a friend want you to loan her money?) Do you expect to see your money again?
These are all instances in which a written agreement can have great value. Just working through what should be in the agreement can help you think creatively and logically about what your expectations are and should be.
Of course, people frequently disagree about what their obligations to each other are even when they have a written agreement. But the process alone can be informative, and helpful to all concerned.