Partnership Agreement: How To Write One

partnership agreement
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A business partnership agreement is a document that defines each partner’s responsibility and specifies explicit company operation guidelines. A business partnership agreement is required for any business partnership in which two or more people own a stake in the company.

In this tutorial, we’ll look at what a business partnership should include, as well as resources and best practises for creating this important legal agreement. Let’s get started.

What is a Business Partnership?

Two or more partners collaborate to carry out business operations in a partnership. If the partnership has less than two partners (i.e., two partners and one retires), the partnership may be dissolved until a new partner is appointed.

The following are some of the advantages of forming a business partnership:

  • It promotes shared ownership and responsibility.
  • Profits (and losses) are distributed.
  • Knowledge and experience are shared.
  • More financial alternatives when bringing in new partners
  • The business is still run by the partners.
  • Partners pool their financial resources and expertise.
  • Sharing administrative papers associated with running a business

What is a Business Partnership Agreement?

A business partnership agreement is a legal document between two or more business partners that outlines the legal structure and purpose of the company.

The agreement also specifies what will happen if one of the business partners decides to sell their stake or leave the company, as well as how the surviving partner or partners will split earnings and losses.

I strongly advise that formal partnership agreements be set in place as firms transition from solo practices to partnerships or ensembles. The main reason is that it specifies the ‘rules of engagement’ between the company and its owners and lays out a strategy for dealing with entity-level challenges.

While most firms do not begin with worries about a future partnership conflict or how to dissolve the organization, business partnership agreements are critical in instances when emotions could otherwise take over. Instead of a verbal agreement between partners, a written, legally binding agreement is an enforceable document.

Why Should Every Partnership Have a Partnership Agreement?

A partnership agreement is required for the formation of any partnership.

The partnership agreement defines the partners’ roles and obligations, as well as crucial concerns such as profit distribution, decision-making procedures, and how to handle retirements and appointments.

Many partnerships can wind up battling over the legalities and amount of the members’ ownership if a formal partnership agreement is not in place.

A partnership agreement is the greatest strategy to protect your partnership’s interests and assets.

It also assures that future costs of dealing with any boardroom disagreements are considerably reduced, and each partner’s tasks and obligations are well defined. When a partnership agreement is in effect, the provisions of the Partnership Act are superseded, and partners can take full control of their firm as agreed from the start.

It also implies that each partner understands what is expected of them from the start.

How to Write a Business Partnership Agreement

A business partnership agreement must address all probable difficulties concerning the co-management of the business. Hiring an attorney or finding a customizable template is the simplest approach to establishing a business partnership agreement. Find a template for a firm that is comparable to the one you’re forming if you’re writing your own agreement.

A business partnership agreement should be structured logically and include the following information:

#1. Business generalities

Begin by stating the name of the business, its legal structure, and its location (i.e., which state’s laws will govern it).

#2. Business operations

Explain the partnership’s purpose and the activities that the company will and will not engage in.

#3. Ownership stake

Indicate the percentage of the company that each partner holds. List the rights and obligations of each partner.

#4. The decision-making procedure

Outline the decision-making process and the responsibilities of each decision-making partner. Include who is in charge of the company’s finances and who must approve the addition of new partners. Include details on how earnings and losses are shared among the partners as well.

#5. Liability

If the business partnership is formed as an LLC, the agreement should limit each partner’s liability in the event of business litigation. A partnership agreement should be used in conjunction with other instruments, such as articles of incorporation, to accomplish this efficiently. A business partnership agreement will almost certainly not be sufficient to entirely protect the partners from liabilities.

#6. Dispute resolution

A dispute resolution method should be included in any business partnership agreement. Disagreements are normal in business, even while working with family or best friends.

#7. Business dissolution

If one or more partners decide to terminate the business, a business partnership agreement should spell out how that would happen. It should specify how partners can join or quit the partnership. It should also include continuity or succession planning for partners who leave the company.

Common Problems with Informal Partnership Agreements

There are times when people form a partnership but do not formalize it with a legal agreement. The Partnership Act of 1890 governs a connection between two people who operate jointly without a partnership agreement.

Without a signed partnership agreement, partners risk not having clear duties and obligations and receiving an unjust profit split.

For example, if two tech founders collaborate, but one pays for all of the equipment, invests money in the business, does the majority of the work, and trains up the second partner without a partnership agreement, the Partnership Act may assume that each partner has an equal share.

This means that the partner who has put more money, equipment, and knowledge into the partnership will not be entitled to a larger stake. Furthermore, the partnership’s assets may be distributed evenly among the partners.

Informal partnerships can lead to disagreements between partners on the following issues:

  • Who does what work?
  • How much each partner has contributed?
  • Who owns the assets?
  • How the profits and losses should be split?
  • Who owns the intellectual property rights and goodwill?
  • Partners not consulting each other properly before making decisions

The Stages of a Business Partnership Agreement

A business partnership agreement does not have to be written in stone, especially when a company grows and evolves. You’ll be able to add to the agreement, particularly if unexpected situations arise. Whitworth identifies four major steps to examine.

#1. Initial partnership

This stage entails drafting the aforementioned initial business partnership agreement. You will create an agreement that controls the overall operations of the business, the decision-making process, ownership stakes, and managerial responsibilities.

#2. Addition of limited partners

As a company grows, it may be able to bring on more partners. According to Whitworth, the original partners may agree to a “small carve-out of minor equity ownership” for the new partner, as well as restricted voting rights that allow the new partner to have a say in business decisions.

#3. Addition of full partners

You may desire to upgrade a limited partner to a full business partnership at times. The qualifications and process for raising a limited partner to full partner status, complete with full voting rights and influence equal to that of the original partners, should be included in a commercial partnership agreement.

#4. Continuity and succession

Founders may retire or quit the company without desiring to disband it at some point. If you did not initially incorporate continuity and succession planning, it is critical to outline your plan. Describe how the surviving partners’ ownership stakes and duties will be distributed once the leaving partners leave.

Mistakes to Avoid in a Business Partnership Agreement

Partnership agreements are lengthy legal documents. Unfortunately, many people get bogged down in the intricacies of their partnership agreements and make critical startup blunders.

Here are a few frequent blunders to avoid:

#1. Ignoring important details

Partnership agreements generally include some complex wording about specific topics, which people may leave out if they don’t understand. Don’t dismiss something because it appears to be in fine print.

#2. Believing that everything will turn out

Someone tend to do business with someone they like and trust, which leads them to believe there will be no problems afterwards. A cooperation agreement exists to address these challenges when they emerge.

#3. Failure to have the agreement reviewed by counsel

Partnership agreements might differ depending on the state and industry, and rules and best practices are always evolving. If you do not want an attorney to draft your agreement, have one evaluate it before you sign it.

#4. Failure to change the agreement later

Partnerships change, and the governing documents must be changed on a regular basis to reflect the evolving business. Otherwise, there may be concerns that the document is unable to address.

#5. Not forming separate partnerships for new ventures

Starting a business is both costly and time-consuming. When a partner develops a concept for a new business, their initial inclination is to incorporate it into their current partnership. This, however, prevents partners from separating their liability. Their old partnership agreement is frequently not built to govern new and different enterprises.

Business partnership agreements establish and enumerate the rights and responsibilities of partners. This reduces partner liability and aids in the resolution of disputes. Failure to draft a suitable agreement may result in later complications, including considerable personal culpability.

What Are Capital Contributions?

It is critical that the agreement includes information on each partner, such as their name, address, and contact information. Each partner’s capital contribution should be clearly specified.

A capital contribution is the amount of money or assets that each partner invests in the business. The bigger the capital input, the greater the partner’s share of the partnership’s equity and income. Each partner’s capital commitment to the partnership will be noted in the agreement.

What are Liabilities and Indemnities in Partnership?

All of the partnership’s obligations and any judgments are considered liabilities. Debts are typically shared by partners. Indemnity clauses in a partnership agreement may stipulate that the partnership as a whole shall be responsible for any claims made against any partners.

The partners can agree to compensate each other for losses and violations of the partnership agreement.

Profit and Loss Distribution in Partnership

Choosing how to distribute profits and losses is a crucial aspect of any partnership. Partners select how to split earnings and losses after agreeing on the yearly reports.

The amount of profit sharing each partner is entitled to is frequently determined by their capital commitment and should be specifically stated in the agreement.If there is no mention of profit shares in the agreement, the partners may be entitled to an equal profit share.

Do You Need a Partnership Agreement UK?

The Partnership Act of 1890 governs a connection between two people who operate jointly without a partnership agreement. Without a signed partnership agreement, partners risk not having clear duties and obligations and receiving an unjust profit split.

Do Partnerships Have to Register with HMRC?

If you are the ‘nominated partner’, you must register your partnership for Self-assessment with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This means you’re in charge of submitting the partnership tax return. Other partners must register separately. As individuals, all partners must file their own tax returns.

A commercial partnership has no legal standing. It’s a simple commercial agreement between two or more persons who want to collaborate. The partnership must be registered with HMRC, and each member must register for self-assessment and file a separate tax return.

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Partnership Agreement?

Partners are not permitted to be paid if there is no signed partnership agreement. Instead, they split the company’s profits and losses evenly. The agreement describes each partner’s rights, responsibilities, and duties to the company and to each other.

How are Partnership Profits Split?

You get to pick how you split the earnings in a business partnership, but all partners must agree on a profit-sharing percentage. You can split the profits equally, or each partner can receive a separate base pay, with the remaining profits given equally.


A well-written, watertight business partnership agreement spells out each partner’s expectations, tasks, and responsibilities. Things change regularly in business; therefore, it’s critical to construct a business partnership agreement that may act as a stabilizing influence during stormy or uncertain times.

Establish a business partnership agreement while incorporating as an entity if you’re going into business with a partner. Even though it appears unneeded now, when a problem comes, you’ll be glad you have a plan in place.


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