What Is LOI (Letter of Intent)?

Letter of Intent (LOI) Definition

A Letter of Intent, or LOI, is a document in which one party declares their intent to do business with another.

These letters are preliminary to any formal deals or terms, and are designed to be general and non-legally binding.

LOIs are similar to term sheets, except that an LOI is presented in letter format and term sheets in a list format.

The Purposes of a Letter of Intent

An LOI may have different purposes depending on the business:

  • Most often they are used as a written way to lay out some of the most basic, early terms of a formal financial deal, particularly to make apparent what details of the deal need to be negotiated further.
  • An LOI may also be used to signal the initiation of a business deal such as a merger or acquisition.

LOI Examples

Outside of business deals, it is very common for other institutions or individuals to use letters of intent to make a written declaration of some terms of an agreement.

For example:

  • College graduates applying for graduate school are often required to write a letter of intent detailing the terms of their study.
  • Parents may also write a letter of intent for their children, often in addition to a legally binding document like a will, describing what they wish to happen in the event of their deaths.

What Is LOI (Letter of Intent) FAQs

LOI is an acronym for a Letter of Intent.
A Letter of Intent, or LOI, is a document in which one party declares their intent to do business with another.
Most often LOI's are used as a written way to lay out some of the most basic, early terms of a formal financial deal, particularly to make apparent what details of the deal need to be negotiated further.
LOI's are sometimes used to signal the initiation of a business deal such as a merger or acquisition.
Yes, one example would a graduate school applicant who is required to write a letter of intent detailing their proposed study. Another would be parents who write a letter of intent for their children, often in addition to a legally binding document like a will, describing what they wish to happen in the event of their deaths.
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True contributes to his own finance dictionary, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, his interview on CBS, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.