Using e-signatures is the most efficient way to get signatures. While the majority of contracts and agreements can be signed with an online e-signature solution, some exceptions apply. Documents requiring a witness or notarization generally need a traditional signature. Here we’ll look a little deeper into what an e-signature entails and what documents can be signed with e-signatures.
What is an e-signature?
An electronic signature, or e-signature, is a signature captured digitally on an electronic document. They take the place of a traditional “wet” pen and paper signature and are legally binding for a wide variety of documents. The Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and state adoption of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) allow for electronic signatures to hold the same legal status as traditional ones.
For an e-signature to be valid, there must be intent to sign, consent to perform transactions electronically, and a method for associating the signature to the signed record. All of these requirements are easily met using online e-signature solution.
How are e-signatures used?
E-signatures are used to speed up the process of traditional document signing. By using electronic signatures, people can safely sign from anywhere in the world on almost any device. It is quick, traceable, legally binding, and convenient. This method allows you to manage contracts and documents from anywhere in the world, improves productivity, and saves time.
Is an e-signature the same as a digital signature?
These terms are often used interchangeably; however, a digital signature is more complicated than an e-signature. A digital signature is encrypted and adds a layer of security to document signing. For most documents, this additional encryption and protection aren’t usually necessary.
What documents can be signed with an e-signature?
E-signatures can be used to sign and countersign a variety of documentation, including:
- Employee contracts
- Offer letters
- Separation agreements
- Price quotes
- Non-disclosure agreements
- Power of attorney agreements
- Business contracts
- Vendor contracts
- Lease documents
- Medical documents
- Contractor agreements
- Purchase agreements
- Letters of engagement
- Shareholder agreements
- Board consents
- Retention and fee agreements
- Merger and acquisition agreements
- Terms and conditions
What documents cannot be signed with an e-signature?
Despite the prevalence and legality of electronic signatures, there are still some contracts that cannot be signed digitally. Typically contracts and agreements that need a witness in presence and notarizations cannot be processed through online e-signature solutions. Among these documents that need in-person wet signatures are:
- Court notices, orders, and official documents
- Court pleadings and notices
- Divorce decrees
- Wills and trusts
- Utility service termination notices
- Foreclosure, repossession, and eviction notices
- Insurance benefit cancellations
- Recalls or material failure alerts
- Documentation accompanying the transport of hazardous materials
- Adoption paperwork
The importance of e-signatures during COVID-19
The advent of the COVID-19 has changed how business is conducted across the world. Many states are requiring that people stay home or practice social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. This has caused a considerable increase in the use of electronic signatures.
In these unprecedented times of global pandemic, some states may make exceptions about what documents can and cannot be signed using e-signatures. Due to restrictions and recommendations for social distancing, nearly half of the fifty states have already passed legislation to permit remote notarization during the COVID-19 pandemic. This allows notaries and signees to use video technology to witness signatures for documents that would typically need to be signed in person.
If you need to execute a document that can’t usually be signed using e-signature, check to see if an exemption may be in place.
The laws in place allow companies and their clients to use e-signatures to process contracts and sign documents safely, securely, and flexibly to keep business moving during the pandemic. There is no need to set up an in-person meeting or even leave your house! It is the perfect solution for companies who need to stay up and running while staying safe.