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What Does It Mean to Draft a Letter of Intent?

A letter of intent (LOI) is a legal document used to express a commitment in a business deal or other formal transaction between two or more parties.

The letter of intent is an agreement to agree to future terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are usually outlined in future agreements, such as a property purchase agreement or nondisclosure agreement.

Here is an article overview of a letter of intent and its purpose.

Why Should You Use a Letter of Intent?

Using a letter of intent expresses and formally documents an interest in doing business with another person or entity. It is used in high-value transactions, such as business acquisitions, joint ventures, or real estate purchases.

It’s often common to see a nondisclosure agreement with a letter of intent to keep the deal's details private.

You should use a letter of intent if you plan to join or buy a business, purchase commercial real estate with an existing business, or buy property.

Here is an article with more information on when to use a letter of intent.

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Types of Letters of Intent

You may encounter five types of letters of intent, each with its unique stipulations and requirements. As the nature of the letter differs, so does its structure. Depending on why you are using a letter of intent, you must follow the appropriate format to ensure it contains all necessary legal elements.


There are many applications for letters of intent in business. Still, most are for business partnerships, joint ventures, acquisitions, and mergers. One party can write a letter expressing interest in joining, purchasing, or doing business with another company.

The letter of intent sets the framework for a future definitive agreement; it is important to note that the letter itself is a preparatory step and does not represent a legally binding relationship between the two parties.


Before signing an employment contract, you may write a letter of intent to work for a company. You could also send a letter of intent to a business that does not advertise a particular job and express interest in a specific position or work in a particular division.


Educational letters of intent are in the form of scholarships and university programs. Students often submit a letter of intent with their application, expressing their motivation for applying to a degree program and their desire to study at a particular institution.

Family Court

A parent seeking custody orders can write a letter of intent and submit it to the court. The letter of intent for the family court summarizes the details of the case, and it explains the custody arrangements the part desires and why these arrangements would be in the child's best interest.


If someone receives a scholarship, they may submit a letter of intent to the scholarship donor accepting the money. The same is true for other types of grants and financial awards.

Real Estate

Prospective buyers can submit letters of intent to sellers before purchasing a property. A tenant can also submit a letter of intent to a landlord and discuss the proposed terms of a future real estate purchase or rental agreement.

Here is an article on how to write a letter of intent (LOI).

Who Writes a Letter of Intent?

Letters of intent are written by the party wishing to express their interest and propose an offer. In the case of real estate, the letter of intent is written by the buyer and issued to the seller. In business, letters of intent can come from entities proposing partnerships, joint venture deals, or business acquisition.

The purpose of the letter of intent is to open dialogue for future negotiation. It is not a legally binding agreement, and it does not officiate any transaction. Instead, it invites the recipient to respond, discuss opportunities, and request changes before proceeding with a definitive agreement.

Here is an article detailing using real estate letters of intent and how they can benefit the negotiation process.

Is a Letter of Intent a Legal Document?

Yes and no. Although a letter of intent is considered a legal document proposing an agreement, it does not obligate any party to perform specific tasks. For example, you may write a letter of intent expressing your desire to acquire someone’s business. However, they are not legally bound to respond to your letter with agreement.

Letters of intent are the first step toward writing and signing a formal agreement. They allow parties to discuss and negotiate details in complex transactions, making their final agreement much more streamlined.

Make sure that when writing a letter of intent, you keep the focus solely on the proposed deal and interest. Short, concise paragraphs free from wordy jargon are best.

Here is an article with tips for writing a letter of intent.

What Should Be Included in a Letter of Intent?

Letters of intent should include a brief self-introduction, your expressed purpose, and your reasons for writing the letter. It should be a short document, no longer than one page, and use short paragraphs with formal but simple language.

Generally speaking, a letter of intent should include your qualifications or relevant experience, which justify your position as a suitable partner/candidate/buyer.

The exact nature of the letter will vary greatly depending on your reason for writing. However, you should keep the letter simple, straightforward, and free of spelling and grammatical errors.

Below are the key elements to always include in a letter of intent. You can follow them sequentially to ensure your letter has all the necessary elements.

  • Greetings. Open the letter by addressing the appropriate parties. For example, you may write, “To whom it may concern,” and begin your letter from there. Ensure to drop a line in your letter after writing the greeting so no other writing appears on the same line as the recipient’s name.
  • Introduction. Start the letter by stating your name, purpose, and background in that order. For example, a job applicant would introduce themselves by name, explain why they are writing (what job they are applying for), and their relevant qualifications.
  • Skills and experience, or an offer proposal. Suppose you are writing an employment or business letter of intent. In that case, you will want to include information about yourself, such as your skills and achievements. You could also use the body of the letter to express interest in something and make an offer, such as the intent to purchase a house or acquire a business.
  • A call to action. Conclude your letter by requesting the recipient to contact you to discuss your letter's details further. You can use this final paragraph to thank the person for their time and encourage them to contact you with any questions or to discuss future opportunities. You should also include contact information, such as an email address or phone number.
  • Closing. A simple, one-line closing on its line is sufficient for ending your letter of intent. You can sign it however you like, but you should remain professional. Use salutations such as “Sincerely,” “Thank you,” or “Regards,” followed by your signature on the line directly below. Be sure to date your signature as well before sending the letter.

Here is an article on how to write a letter of intent for a job, along with two examples.

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