When you think about signatures, probably the most famous one -- John Hancock -- pops into mind. Your signature is a reflection of your personality and an important tool in your business activities. But you aren't always the one who signs your name by pen.
In today's digital age, e-signatures or other electronic notations can be used. The ESIGN Act of 2000, short for the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, makes e-signatures valid on most legal documents (find a list of documents for which e-signatures cannot be used here). You can use e-signatures on your contracts and agreements. You can automate signatures on your business checks. And you can obtain customer consent to the terms and conditions of online sales in this manner.
You can facilitate e-signing by using sites for this purpose. Examples:
- DocuSign (there's a monthly fee).
- RightSignature (there's a monthly fee).
- SigniX (you have to request a quote)
Signing on behalf of another
If someone is authorized to sign something for another person, follow formalities:
- Assistant signing letters for a business owner. Technically a person informally authorized to sign on behalf of owner who is absent or simply too busy to sign is called "procurement." Signing this way is per procurement, or p.p.. The signature should read: Owner's name (on one line); p.p. Assistant's name (on the following line). Sometimes this is reversed, with the assistant's name on the first line and the owner's name on the next. Not a good idea: having your assistant forge your name.
- Agent signing on behalf of a principal. If someone is signing as an agent under a power of attorney to act for a principal, the correct signature protocol is for the agent to sign the principal's name, followed by the agent's name and the words "agent," "power of attorney," or "POA." For example, if I am the agent acting on behalf of Jane Doe, the signature would read: "Jane Doe, Barbara Weltman POA."
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