The Legal Documents Every Startup Needs
Herlinda Castagnoli USC Gould School of Law, 1L/Rising 2L
You're probably ready to jump to work. But before you start executing your idea, make sure you have all of the following paperwork in order.
And while you can get free templates of these documents online, we don't recommend going that route. One of our lawyers can customize these documents for your specific business, needs and industry.
Hiring a lawyer now, which can cost as little as $249 through Court Buddy, will save you tons of money and time down the road.
This is a written legal agreement that prohibits either one or both of the signing parties from sharing confidential information.
Having this document ready during any private discussions concerning developments can protect the privacy of your company and ideas.
Articles of Incorporation
These are a set of documents filed with a government entity to legally document the creation of a corporation.
Filing the Articles of Incorporation is an important step because a proper business structure will protect founders from huge income tax bills and legal liabilities.
Ownership of Assets
This is a legal document that verifies either the company’s or an individual’s ownership of material assets such as machinery, real estate, IP rights, and office buildings.
Filing an ownership of assets allows the company to stipulate what both parties can do with the contributions of an unpaid contributor.
This is a written legal document that outlines in detail the operations of the company.
Without documented bylaws, state statutes will control how the company operates.
Also known as a founder collaboration agreement, this document defines the relationship of the founders, provides the expectation that all work belongs to the company or some entity in the future, and outlines a basic communication and conflict resolution clause.
This document aims to prevent and protect individuals from future tensions between the founders.
Employee Contracts and Offer Letters
These documents should state the following:
- Terms of employment: compensation, role responsibilities, working hours, grounds for termination
- Reporting structure
- IP ownership of work
- Required commitments
- Share vesting
- Company policies: vacation days, dress code, paid time off, etc.
This is a legal document that determines the rights of shareholders and outlines when they can exercise those rights. Shareholders are private investors.
Documenting the sale of any shares protects a company from financial penalties that might arise under state or federal laws.
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