One of the ways that you protect yourself when agreeing to an arrangement is by signing a contract. Whether you are buying a car or a home, or entering into a business arrangement, a contract can protect you, as well as the other party.

However, before you signing contracts, you need to make sure you understand what is going on. If you sign the wrong contract, you could end up in big trouble.

Read the Terms

First of all, you need to read all of the terms of the contract. This is vital, since you don’t want to be surprised by something later. Make sure that what you sign matches with what you were promised. If there are differences, refuse to sign until the changes have been made. Don’t agree to sign the contract on the promise that the changes will be made after the fact. Only sign once everything is squared away as promised, and you are comfortable.

Don’t Sign Anything Incomplete

Another trick that is being used more and more is a contract being presented to you as incomplete. You are told that the information will be filled in later. Don’t sign anything that isn’t complete. In some cases, the less scrupulous will fill in a higher price, or will add fees that are hidden. Before you sign, everything should be filled in. Stay away from incomplete paperwork, and don’t sign until all the blanks are filled in.

Make Sure the Other Party Signs

In some cases, you might run into trouble if the other party doesn’t sign. Make sure that the other party signs the contract — and does so in your presence. And insist on a signed copy of the agreement for yourself. In many cases, an agreement is printed out twice. You and the other party each sign a copy, and you each get to keep one of those copies. You want to make sure that everything is in order.

Online Dealings

Of course, thanks to technology like EchoSign, it’s possible to make agreements via the Internet, without actually meeting with someone in person. These contracts are binding as well. In fact, a simple email agreement can be binding. All you have to do is list the terms, and ask the other person to send back an email saying that they agree. These types of agreements can be used for simple and straightforward arrangements.

However, if you do use this method, you should list out all of the terms explicitly. You want to make sure that everyone understands the agreement, and what will happen as part of the arrangement.

Professional Advice

It’s also possible for you to get professional advice about your agreement. If you are concerned that you will miss something, have a knowledgeable attorney review the paperwork to make sure that everything is in order. This is especially important if your agreement is a big deal. You want to make sure that you aren’t being cheated, and that you are protected. A professional can help you identify red flags that might trip you up.

Tom Drake

Tom Drake

Tom Drake writes for Financial Highway and MapleMoney. Whenever he’s not working on his online endeavors, he’s either doing his “real job” as a financial analyst or spending time with his two boys.