Is a handwritten agreement legally binding?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is a handwritten agreement legally binding?

About 6 years ago, my mother wrote out an agreement that she was going to sell me a house for in her words a largely discounted price and she states in the agreement that this discount is part of her inheritance to me and it’s a

Asked on December 28, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:
1) Is a handwritten agreement enforceable or binding? Yes, so long as it meets the requirements to be contract: both sides agreed to it, and each side got something of value (e.g. house for cash). There is no requirement that a contract be typed or be in any particular form: a handwritten agreement is as binding as one from a lawyer's office on their stationary.
2) Whether she has grounds to sue you now for breaking the agreement after accepting the $2,500? That depends on whether there was a second agreement--a "settlement"--between the two of you in which she agreed to give up any other claims or rights she might have due to you moving out if you paid her the $2,500. If you can prove in court that there was such an agreement, that that agreement would resolve her claims--i.e. if she agreed that $2,500 took care of all your obligations, she cannot now go back on that. If there was nothing in writing, however, you may have some difficulty proving this, but if you can prove it, an oral (non-written) settlement or agreement is binding.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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