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What Is a Letter of Intent?
A letter of intent is a formal letter that expresses your intentions to do something, such as apply for an educational program or job or make a purchase. It could also be used to clarify specific points in a business transaction. A job candidate might send a letter of intent to a business if they wanted to work for the company, but there wasn't a specific job they were applying for. The candidate might submit a letter of intent along with a general application.
The letter of intent shows interest in the other party and deals with them in a respectful and professional manner. It states your intentions without actually entering into an agreement regarding the business arrangement. When a letter of intent is used between businesses, it allows the individual parties to define their relationships and their future plans without involving lawyers and generating significant legal costs. Though the document isn't legally binding, it is a show of good faith.
Other Names for a Letter of Intent
A letter of intent is sometimes referred to as a:
- Terms sheet
- Framework letter
- Letter of interest
- Intent to purchase letter
- Assurance letter
Types of Letter of Intent
Here are a few specific examples of different types of letters of intent:
- Purchase of real estate, business, or general property: You can use a letter of intent to state your intention to purchase commercial or residential property or a business. The letter should specifically state that it isn't an official purchase agreement and that the terms and conditions of the business transaction are to be stated in the actual purchase agreement that must be agreed upon by all relevant parties.
- Scholarship acceptance: A student could send a letter of intent to an institution or organization when accepting a scholarship. The letter should express appreciation for the scholarship and excitement for the opportunity.
- Graduate school: If you intend to submit an application to attend a specific graduate school, you could send a letter of intent to that university. Some schools may even require a letter of intent as part of their application process. The letter should let the recipient know that you've submitted your application and list the graduate program for which you're applying.
- Acquisition: This type of letter of intent is similar to the one that you would use when purchasing a business. However, it should be marked as confidential. As a sender, you may want to include the basic terms of the deal in addition to a nonbinding statement about the preparation of the agreement and procedures for negotiation.
- Employment: You could send a letter of intent to express interest in working for a company, even if there isn't a specific opening available. The letter can state the type of position you're interested in or whether you're looking for an opening in a particular department.
Letter of Intent vs. Cover Letter
Admittedly, letters of intent can be similar to cover letters when used for the purpose of finding a job. However, there are some differences. A letter of intent:
- Is more focused on the company than a specific role
- Speaks in more general terms about the candidate's skill set
Cover letters, on the other hand, tend to be
- Focused on the specific job
- Discuss the candidate's skills as they relate to that job
How to Write a Letter of Intent
Here are the basic steps you should follow to write a general letter of intent that could be used to clear an intent to purchase or to plan a business arrangement:
- Determine the name of the recipient: While there may be situations where you need to include a general greeting, like if you're sending the letter to multiple people, in most cases, it's best to send your letter of intent to a specific individual. This will increase the likelihood that the letter will reach the right person.
- Choose the best greeting: The most common greeting is "Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name." If the person you're sending the letter to has a professional title, such as Professor or Dr., you should use that instead.
- Write the body : This part of the letter will vary depending on the purpose of your letter of intent. In general, the first paragraph should state the purpose of your letter. If you're purchasing real estate or a business, you should state the terms that are proposed for the purchase. If you're expressing interest in working for a company, you should highlight the qualifications that would make you ideally suited for a job at the company. If you're sending a letter of intent to accept a scholarship, you should express your appreciation and enthusiasm in an appropriate, professional manner.
- Include a professional closing: Always use a professional closing. "Sincerely" or "Yours truly" often work well. Write or type your name under the closing.
Tips for Writing a Letter of Intent
Here are some tips you can use to help you write a letter of intent:
- Use an appropriate format: Use a business letter format that includes both parties' contact information and the date the letter is created.
- Include a clear subject line: If you're sending your letter via email, include a concise subject line that states the purpose of the letter. If you're sending the letter in this way, you don't need to include contact information at the top of the letter for both parties. You can place your contact information under the signature at the bottom.
- Proofread carefully: Read the letter of intent closely to look for typos and grammatical errors.
- Use a professional greeting: Try to send the letter to someone specifically and greet them in a professional manner. If the letter is being sent to several people, you can use a general greeting like, "To whom it may concern."
- Use short paragraphs: You should keep your letter brief with short paragraphs to increase the likelihood that the recipient will read the letter in full. This is particularly true if you're sending a letter of intent expressing your interest in a job at a company.
- Research the company: if you're writing a letter of intent to apply for a job at a company, research the company in advance to better understand its mission and culture. This can help give you a sense of how you could potentially add value.
- Use bullet points: Consider using bullets to highlight your qualifications for a job or key points you want to emphasize in a business deal. Bullets will help to draw attention to this information and ensure it isn't overlooked when the recipient scans the letter.
- Keep your letter short: Your letter of intent should never be longer than one page.
Letter of Intent Templates
- Letter of intent for a job
- Letter of intent for a job opening
- Letter of intent for a job in the same company
- Letter of intent for a job application
- General letter of intent
If you need help drafting a letter of intent, Contracts Counsel has a team of fully vetted lawyers who have worked in over 30 different industries. They can also help you negotiate or review contracts to make sure you're legally protected during any business deal. Contact us today to get started.
Meet some of our Letter of Intent Lawyers
I run a small law firm in Pasadena, CA. I have been practicing for almost 10 years and the other attorneys at my firm each have 12+ years of experience. We focus on business and employment law, protecting and defending business owners. While my clients are all sizes, I particularly enjoy helping smaller companies and individuals manage their legal needs without the high price tag.
I have over 25 years' experience representing individual and company clients, large and small, in transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, private offerings of securities, commercial loans and commercial endeavors (supply contracts, manufacturing agreements, joint ventures, intellectual property licenses, etc.). My particular specialty is in complex and novel drafting.
I assist individuals and businesses across the state of Florida with contract drafting, contract interpretation, and issues that may arise because of contract terms, including demands (cease-and-desist letters) and litigation. I have experience with general service contracts, non-compete agreements, settlement agreements, and many other contracts. Please reach out if I can help you with a contract-related project!
30+ years as a practicing attorney in Colorado. Real Estate law, entity formation, business acquisitions and real estate development representing sellers and buyers
Experienced attorney focusing on estate planning, probate administration, business formation and counseling, and consumer bankruptcy.
I focus my practice on startups and small to mid-size businesses, because they have unique needs that mid-size and large law firms aren't well-equipped to service. In addition to practicing law, I have started and run other businesses, and have an MBA in marketing from Indiana University. I combine my business experience with my legal expertise, to provide practical advice to my clients. I am licensed in Ohio and California, and I leverage the latest in technology to provide top quality legal services to a nationwide client-base. This enables me to serve my clients in a cost-effective manner that doesn't skimp on personal service.