In this day and age, documents are often shared electronically. Original signatures on physical documents has become rare in many cases. When it comes to signatures on legal documents, electronic copies are often acceptable but there are a few cases where real signatures are required.
Fax or Scanned Signatures
General contracts, including real estate documents, are commonly shared via fax or email. Normally, someone signs the actual document but then faxes or scans it to send to other parties. There is often an electronic trail of some sort connected to the process of sharing the document. These are generally acceptable nowadays. It is important to know that in a dispute over different versions of a document, the version with original signatures will obviously carry more weight.
If you’ve dealt with a real estate or insurance transaction, you may have been asked to submit an electronic signature. This does not resemble your actual signature. Basically, you verify your identity online using your personal information (i.e. date of birth, social security number, etc.). Then, using that verified online profile, you indicate your acceptance of a certain documents by clicking in designated signature areas. The system tracks all of this information and keeps a precise electronic record of your actions.
For contracts that you physically sign, there may be some type of added verification. For example, you may be asked for a witness to your signature. That witness must also sign the document. More important documents may require notarization. Notary publics are certified by the state. They attach their seal to a document to verify that they confirmed your identity and witnessed your signature. Notaries must also keep a written record of their transactions. For these types of documents, fax/scanned or e-signatures are normally not acceptable. You will commonly see this notary requirements for mortgage documents and official state documents.
More About Signatures on Legal Documents
Basically any document that you sign may be a legal document. Make sure that all pages of a contract contain either your initials or signature. This prevents a page from being swapped out without your knowledge. Whether it’s a real estate contract, lease agreement, or contract for services such as home repairs, you should always understand a document before signing it. Consult with an attorney if you are unsure or would like legal advice before providing your signatures on legal documents.