W e lawyers have a saying: "The big print giveth, and the fine print taketh away." If there's one thing formal legal documents are known for, it's fine print, or "boilerplate," those interminable, impenetrable and incomprehensible paragraphs of legalese that seem to be designed to vex and befuddle the layperson.
What follows is an overview of the most common boilerplate provisions. Although it'll help you better understand contracts and what they can do, this series is not a recipe for the do-it-yourselfer. These clauses won't work unless they're worded just right. Get help from an experienced lawyer.