What are the Different Types of Legal Documents?

Sep 13, 2022

In today’s modern society, you need a lot of paperwork to run your life smoothly, whether you’re buying a house or starting a new company. With the law becoming more complex over time, many businesses require various legal forms to operate legally — including contracts, leases, deeds, wills, power of attorney, partnership agreements, and trust agreements. Each type of document serves a specific purpose and is a different realm altogether.

For instance, contracts serve multiple purposes and are often used to formalize transactions such as buying or selling property, hiring employees, or leasing office space. Depending on the specific situation, contracts can range from simple agreements to complex ones. Additionally, you may have to legalize or attest certain documents for their authenticity. For that, it’s always best to head to professionals.

Meaning of Legal Document

A legal document is an adequately documented statement or arrangement between two or more partakers. It can include contracts, deeds, agreements, wills, bills of sale, leases, licenses, mortgages, and other documents. Many businesses rely on these documents to conduct their daily operations. A legal document contains information about rights, obligations, and responsibilities. In simple terms, it helps define who owns what, where things should go, and what happens if something goes wrong.

Next is a list of a few legal documents and their subtypes to help you discover and understand the complex world of legal documents;

Is a Bill of Lading a Legal Document?

Have you ever wondered why freight forwarders often ask for proof of delivery even though they already have copies?

A bill of lading is a contract between the shipper and the receiver. The shipper is responsible for the cargo delivery, and the receiver is responsible for receiving and paying for the shipment. Issued after the transportation service has taken place, Bills of lading are generally used to ensure the secure delivery of goods to their new owner.

They include provisions such as the name of the shipping carrier, date and time of delivery, the amount paid, and other details required by customs regulations. Since it is a document showing the handing over of commodities from the seller to the purchaser, a Bill of lading can be sent electronically via email, fax, or scanned. This enables both parties to get the same information regarding the shipment on time.

Is a Bill of Sale a Legal Document?

Yes, a bill of sale is a written agreement — thus a legal document — between two parties and serves as evidence of property ownership. A bill of sale (or deed) is a contract between two parties in which the seller gives the buyer the property’s possession or title to the property, and then the purchaser agrees to pay the seller a certain amount.

The bill of sale usually includes details like the sort of possessions being assigned, the purchaser’s title and address, and the date of acquisition. A bill of sale must be signed by the parties to transfer ownership.

There are several other types of contracts, such as Contract of Sale, Purchase and Sale Agreement, and even some forms of lease agreements that fall in the same category and serve the same purpose: to provide the transfer of ownership from one party to the next legally.

Is the Code of Ethics a Legal Document?

Types of Legal Documents

Codes of Ethics are part of organizations’ or businesses’ policies that guide employees’ behaviour and provide rules for conduct. They also deal with ethical issues like conflict, marginalization, and sexual misconduct.

Or in other words, the Code of Ethics is nothing more than a document that sets out guidelines on how a particular organization wants its employees to behave. The Code of Ethics has three parts: the preamble, the purpose statement, and the obligations section. They cover a wide range of topics such as honesty, loyalty, confidentiality, respect for colleagues and customers, fairness, etc.

Employees who violate company policy or break the law might face serious consequences — possibly even termination. These penalties would also apply to employees who violate their code of conduct while travelling for business.

While a written code of conduct is generally considered an ethical guideline, some states consider it a legal requirement. Employees may be required to sign statements agreeing to abide by the code of conduct. In addition, they may be subjected to disciplinary action if they break specific rules.

Is a Deed of Gift a Legal Document?

A deed of gift is the method through which a person legally transfers land from themselves to another person. The person who receives the deed does not give the original owner something in return (for example, monetary compensation) since it’s a gift. This transaction is standard and legal in some countries, such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. But how does it work?

Some states require you to complete a written agreement or contract before starting the process. The document can include details such as who gets the property, how long the property will stay in their name, and whether or not they’ll share ownership of the house.

End-of-Life Legal Documents

Types of Legal Documents

An End-of-Life (EOL) document is a legal document that comes to the rescue in the event of death or incapacity to provide instructions regarding asset disposition or medical representation. These documents are intended to ensure that the deceased’s wishes are carried out and that their estate is distributed per their will as well as the law of the land. Here are a few examples.

  • Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament (LW&T) specifies who should receive what after the testator’s death (the person writing the copy). An LW&T may name beneficiaries to inherit property at the time of death, or it may leave everything to charity. A valid will is necessary to guarantee that your funds are distributed as you intend.

  • Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that authorizes someone to act on behalf of another person who lacks the capacity to manage their financial affairs. The POA delegated authority over the principal’s finances to the agent. It is important to note that the POA does not give the agent authority over the principal’s health care. Only the agent has the power to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal. Financial POAs provide you with peace of mind by giving you control over your assets and removing the risk of identity theft. They also relieve you of the burden of dealing with complicated legal issues and paperwork.

  • Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney is parallel to a financial power of attorney, but it is intended for people who need assistance managing their healthcare decisions. Like a financial power of attorney, an MPA is not a substitute for a will. Instead, it protects you and makes life easier for your loved ones by making all medical decisions following your wishes.

  • Living Trust

Living trusts are trusts in which the beneficiary is alive at the time the trust is established. They are intended to reduce estate taxes, provide probate protection, and allow assets to pass directly from the creator to the beneficiaries without the need for court intervention. This allows for efficient and smooth property transfer.

Wrapping It Up

Aside from the documents mentioned above, many others are legally binding and thus fall under the umbrella term of legal documents. These include — but are not limited to — contracts, deeds, leases, licenses, and other vital forms of ownership. These documents play an essential role in our daily lives, assisting us in establishing relationships and dealing with property ownership issues. Multiple parties frequently sign these documents, which help define their relationships, grant rights, and summarise legally binding obligations.

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