Contracts exist in nearly every aspect of life, and each contract is unique. Whether you’re entering into a personal or business agreement, drafting your own contract can be tricky and is best undertaken with the help of an attorney. This article covers what you need to know for how to make a contract legally binding in Arizona.
Please note that this article is not intended to be legal advice. You should always talk to an attorney who is skilled at civil law about your unique situation.
How to make a contract legally binding in Arizona
Contracts are a part of life. They may be verbal or written. You may enter into an agreement to pay for services, such as construction or repairs on your home. In most cases, you must sign a contract when you lease or purchase a new car. Other contracts may involve your employment, including a non-compete agreement, or a non-disclosure agreement.
While contracts are useful and common, Arizona contract law can be complex and often confusing for someone who doesn’t deal with contracts regularly. Some lawyers dedicate their entire careers solely to understanding the nuances of contract law.
Before entering into any legally binding contract, you should always know exactly what you are signing. This post covers some of the basics you should know, but it’s only a start. To avoid issues, such as a breach of contract, Arizona contract lawyers can give you guidance about your specific contract or case.
Elements of a legally binding contract in Arizona
There are typically three basic elements of any legally binding contract. These are important because they will come up if any contract dispute goes to court.
The offer outlines the terms of a contract with a statement of what you and the other party agree to. This statement presents an item or service for sale, barter, lease, trade, etc.
It can also refer to something you are not going to do, as in the case of a non-disclosure agreement.
Acceptance generally appears in the form of your signature on the document. In some cases, acceptance can also be verbal or it could simply be the performance of the act the contract calls for.
Generally, courts cannot enforce contracts that do not include some form of consideration. This is the legal term for the item or service to be sold or exchanged, whether it is money, time, services, physical property, in-kind services, or donations.
Put simply, in a contract each party gives something in return for something else.
Is a verbal contract legally binding in Arizona?
While some types of verbal agreements may be legally binding in Arizona, a written contract is typically the best way to protect yourself. It is more difficult to prove the necessary elements of a verbal contract in a court of law. In fact, there are many situations when a contract must be in writing to be valid in the state of Arizona (A.R.S. §44-101).
Some of these situations include contracts related to:
– Services that that will require more than a year to complete
– Goods for sale that cost over $500
– Someone guaranteeing a debt for someone else
– The purchase of real property or an agreement to lease for more than a year
Whether a written contract is required or enforceable can be a complex topic. It’s a good idea to consult a lawyer if you have questions about a verbal contract.
Are contracts signed by minors legally binding?
In general, minors under the age of 18 cannot enter into a legally binding contract. However, there are some exceptions in the state of Arizona, such as agreements for emergency medical services and even educational loans (A.R.S. §44, sections 131-140).
Other limitations may be placed on certain individuals to enter some legally binding contracts, such as people with mental incapacities and those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When is a contract legally binding?
Typically, a document that includes an offer, acceptance, and appropriate consideration will be considered legally binding. In most cases, a contract is binding in Arizona even if the parties signed it in another state.
Depending on the situation, it is best to consult a lawyer who has experience in contract law. They can help you understand what you need in order to draft and enforce a contract that is legally binding both in and out of the state of Arizona.
How to draw up a legally binding contract
No matter how common contracts are, they can still be complex, and it’s sometimes hard to know if a contract is legally sound. For this reason, it’s important to work with a skilled attorney when you need to create a legally binding contract, whether it be for a purchase, service agreement, or business deal.
This will ensure that all parties know what they are agreeing to. Likewise, if someone asks you to sign a contract you’re unsure about, you should have a lawyer take a look at the document so you can protect yourself.
For more help with Arizona contract law, contact our Arizona business lawyers to get started. Our team has extensive experience working on contract negotiations, drafting, and enforcement.