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A Guide To E-Signatures


E –signatures are big business, and for good reason: they make going totally paperless possible. But understanding how it works and when it’s OK to use an e-signature can be confusing. Here, we’ve put together a guide to e-signatures and what you need to know to get started using one.

When Are They Considered Valid, And When Should You Not Use One?

Thanks to the federal government’s ESIGN Act of 2000, e-signatures are legally valid and carry the same legal weight as handwritten signatures. That means that for some court documents, business contracts or agreements, e-signing is a legitimate way to add your signature.

There are a few specific situations, however, in which electronic versions of documents or contracts are not considered valid. Wills, documents relating to family law like adoption or divorce, eviction notices, court orders, foreclosure notices, situations where a notary is required, and product recalls are all examples of situations in which e-signatures are not considered valid.

When Can You Paste An Image of A Signature, And When Should You Use Certified E-Signature Services?

It is possible to use a picture of your signature on any document, from PDF’s to DOCX. Although this is legal if the signing parties could prove their intent, it’s not recommended that you use this for commercial purposes because it could be subject to dispute.

Another way to add an electronic signature is to type your name in one of the following formats: /s/John Doe or /John Doe/. Both are considered legitimate signatures according to the ESIGN Act, and are acceptable in the legal industry. Some experts recommend that you use this format for agreements or contracts for a lower value, non-recurring service.

The most iron-clad way to add an e-signature to a document is to use an e-signature service, either through an Internet fax provider or through a service like DocuSign or Adobe EchoSign. Those services adhere closely to the ESIGN Act, even taking into account international laws. For high-value transactions like real estate contracts, or for international business, a service like this is probably the best choice.