A letter of intent is simply a formal letter of intentions that briefly outlines a proposal between two or more parties. The document is more formal than an oral agreement but usually not legally binding.
Many institutions have specific guidelines for their letter of intent especially those offering academic placement or grants. Be sure to do your research prior to writing your letter.
Information to Include in Specific Letters of Intent
The information contained in a letter of intent will depend on its purpose. In simple terms, the letter’s purpose is to outline what you intend to do and how you intend to go about doing it.
Academic Letter of Intent: These letters are generally written to show interest in a specific academic program. It should express the student’s interest in attending the school, academic achievements, accomplishments not related to school, and why the student wishes to attend the particular school and program.
Letter of Intent to Purchase: When someone is selling and someone is purchasing, the letter of intent demonstrates that the person purchasing is more than a window shopper and that both parties are prepared to continue serious negotiations. This letter generally includes a confidentiality agreement between the parties and details the basic terms of the deal. It should include a date for closing the deal and the consequences for failing to close the deal by said date.
Intent to Sue: As in all the other types of letters of intent, this letter should be sent as a preliminary measure prior to an action. Because these letters outline intended legal action and may be used in the course of that legal action, it may be best to consult a lawyer. If you write it yourself, you need to be very careful in wording. You must clearly detail your issue and steps taken to resolve it. Details are important such as dates and names of people that you have worked with in attempts to resolve your issue. You must remain professional and avoid becoming emotional. Send this letter certified mail and save the receipt for your day in court.
Intent to Move: A formal lease agreement generally requires a formal letter of intent to terminate the agreement. This letter should include the final date that the renter will vacate the premises. Expectations should be outlined such as return of keys and expectations about the security deposit. The letter of intent to move does not legally release obligations on a lease.
Intent to Retire: The intended agreement in this letter is between company and employee. It alerts the company of the intended date of separation. This tone of this letter can be slightly less formal than business arrangements in that the tone should be gracious and cordial. The final paragraph should express words of appreciation.
Letter of Intent for a Grant: Also known as a letter of inquiry, this document is sometimes requested by grantors prior to asking for a full fundraising proposal. This letter should include an introduction, which describes the organization applying for the grant, a statement of need, an achievable solution to this need, and additional funding sources.
The letter of intent to sue is not legally required as a prerequisite to legal action but will often resolve the case without requiring further measures.
Letter of Intent Format
Letters of intent should use standard business letter formatting. The document should be type-written, have 1 ½-inch margins with block formatting, keeping all typing flush with the left margin.
Business letter heading> The heading begins with the sender’s address, a space followed by the date, another space, then the inside address, which is the name, title, company, and address of the recipient.
Reference line> The reference line is not always necessary, but is helpful in letters of intent where applicable such as intent to move and intent to sue.
Formal Greeting> Do your research and find the specific party who will be considering your letter. Avoid generic headings such as “to whom it may concern”.
What the letter is in reference to> Describe concisely, but in detail, the issue to which you are inquiring/complaining/informing.
Details of the intentions/proposed deal> Exactly what you intend to do about the situation. For purchase agreements, it will outline an overview of the proposal. Exact details can be fleshed out in the contract negotiations. In a demand letter, this section is the most detailed and should include all relevant dates, names, phone conversations, calls ignored, and any other relevant information that may later be relevant in court.
Call to action> The call to action will vary considerably depending on the purpose of the letter of intent. In all cases, it should include applicable dates such as when you plan on vacating or the final date that you must receive a response before you take further action. In this case, you will want to outline the consequences if your request isn’t met.
Formal Salutation> A formal business letter should be closed formally with salutations such as sincerely, regards, your prompt attention is appreciated, etc.
Signature> Sign the document with a pen above your type-written signature.
Letter of Intent to Sue Example
123 Money Drive
Debt, Virginia 00000
October 1, 2013
John Smith, Owner
234 Penny Lane
Debt, Virginia 00000
RE: Notice of Intent to Sue
Account Number 28394JF89
Dear Mr. Smith:
This letter serves as the formal notice of my intent to file a lawsuit against you in court, due to your disregard for my previous requests for resolution.
On 4/27/2013, I retained your moving company to transport my grand piano from Piano World, located at 123 Music Lane, Debt, Virginia to my home at 123 Money Drive, Debt, Virginia. The piano was transported from Piano World to my residence without incidence. When the two moving men brought it into my house, they dropped it in my foyer, cracking nine imported Italian ceramic tiles. Fortunately, there was no damage to the piano. Both men witnessed the damage and apologized. I immediately called your company and informed Mary Doe, your receptionist, of the incident. At that time, she asked to speak to one of your men, who then confirmed to her the exact details of the damage. She requested that I take pictures, have it repaired, and send the bill to your company. I hired ABC Tile Company at a total cost of $1542.13 including material and labor.
I sent you the first bill from ABC Tile Company, with a photo of the damaged tile as well as a photo of the new tile as you requested, on 5/13/2013. I have since sent additional requests for payment on 6/13/2013, 7/13/2013, 8/13/2013, and 9/13/2013. After initially speaking with Mary Doe from your company on 4/27/2013, my phone calls to your office have gone unanswered. My last call on 9/30/2013 revealed that your number has been disconnected.
If you wish to resolve this matter without court action, I will expect my refund within thirty (30) days of receipt of this letter. I may be reached at (555) 555-5555 from 9 am to 5 pm. If I do not hear from your company, I will initiate a lawsuit.
Your prompt attention is appreciated,
Points to Consider
- Be concise. Letters of intent are not contracts. They should be brief—preferably one page with three or four paragraphs.
- Refrain from being too familiar even if you have a relationship with the recipient. Use formal business letter format.
- Avoid generic greetings such as “to whom it may concern”. This letter should be addressed to a specific person.
- Use business letter formatting. A common font family, color, and size should always be used in a letter of intent such as black, size 12 point, Times Roman Numeral.
- Proofread your document carefully. Grammar and style are critical especially for academic and grant letters.