If you’re owed money, then you may (or should) be thinking of sending a demand letter. While there is no single format for drafting a demand letter, there are certain guidelines we generally like to abide by to help make sure we send as an effective a demand letter as possible.

Here at Smiley Law, we want you to keep in mind some of our general demand letters tips. Though we usually recommend having an attorney draft your demand letter, if you decide to take this on yourself, keep the following in mind:

Consider the Relationship

A key to any effective demand letter is the consideration of the specific relationship at hand. Remember, a demand letter sent to a relative or close friend can look very different than one sent to a client or business partner. The relationship may set the tone of the letter.

Don’t get Emotional

If you’re owed money, it is normal to feel stressed or upset. Nevertheless, try to stay away from emotionally charged language in your demand letter. By its very nature, a demand letter can already come off as threatening and hostile. You don’t need to add more fuel to the fire. Many times the demand letter is a prerequisite to get other relief if you decide to sue the debtor. Do not get emotional, just document your demand and move on.

Stick to the Facts

A good demand letter should stick to the facts as much as possible. The facts are a crucial part of your demand letter and can be helpful in case of future litigation. Even if you think the other party is well aware of the facts, it is still important to list them here.

Be Specific

Make sure to specify exactly what relief you are looking for in your demand letter. Don’t just assume the other party knows what he/she owes you! Explicitly state the amount you are owed and back it up with your contract and/or agreement. You can always attach the contract or invoices as supporting documents to a demand letter.

Timeline

A demand letter should give the other party a reasonable time limit to pay the debt or agree to a payment schedule. Do not leave an ambiguous deadline as this may lead to future delays. I like to put in a specific date for which the other party needs to respond. This leaves no room for interpretation.

Shorter is better

There is no specific length that your demand letter must be but shorter is generally better. The letter should be long enough to list the facts and express your demand. Anything more than that and you probably overdid it.

Keep a copy

Last but not least, make sure to keep a copy of the demand letter for your records. Also keep a copy of the envelope you sent the letter in. Having things like the certified mail number are also helpful to prove you actually sent the letter.

Having an attorney either draft or review your demand letter will ensure that the proper statutes are complied with regarding your demand. If you’re thinking about sending a demand letter, the attorneys at Smiley Law are ready to take your questions!

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Seth Smiley
Seth is an attorney licensed to practice in Louisiana and California. He is the owner and lead attorney at Smiley Law Firm. To speak with Seth fill out the form on this page.
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