What Are the Costs of Not Getting it in Writing?

The Benefits of Getting It in Writing.

I believe that Getting it in Writing helps us increase the likelihood of success in everything we do.

Any agreement on which one intends to rely, including a simple coffee date, is worth taking time to get in writing.

Having one piece of paper (or text message, or email) that spells out what each person will do, when, in exchange for how much, allows the parties to identify and fix any misunderstandings before they turn into disasters.

This analysis also applies to romantic friends who decide to start living together.

The Costs on Not Getting it in Writing.

I’ve seen too many instances where friends go into business on a handshake. They treat each other as 50-50 partners. Everything goes along fine, until it doesn’t.

Financial Costs.

People who don’t take a little time and spend a little money up front wind up spending much more time and a lot more on lawyers if they wind up suing one another.

I can write up a business operating agreement in a few hours of my time.  It typically takes only a few days from my first conversation with the parties until they have signed the final draft.

Litigation usually takes months, if not years. This results in an opportunity cost as well as out-of-pocket costs.

Attorney fees quickly get into six figures.

Relational Costs.

Friendships are often damaged beyond repair. This frequently has a ripple effect on other people who had been friends of each partner.

Emotional Costs.

The end of a friendship-turned-business is hard enough on everyone even if there is a written agreement. At least the written agreement provides something of a roadmap for everyone to follow.

If there is no written agreement, it takes longer and generates more anxiety to get to the final destination.


Romantic friends should write down a set of expectations before either one starts loading up his/her belongings.

I’ve seen too many instances where one friend moves into the other one’s house, without any written agreement, only to be sent packing. Sadly, each one then realizes that the other had a dramatically different set of expectations.

Thank you!

Michael Oswald



Please note: the above post contains educational information. It is not intended as legal advice. Engage an attorney who is licensed in your state to get advice on dealing with any specific legal issue.

© 2020 Michael S. Oswald

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