What is a countersignature

Jul 02, 2020

A countersignature is a secondary signature added to a document, usually to help confirm the document’s or the signee’s authenticity. Often, this type of signature is supplied by a professional like a lawyer, doctor, notary, or other officials. Sometimes the person providing the countersignature must certify that they have known the signee for a certain length of time and can assure their identity.

When two parties sign a contract, the second signature is also considered a countersignature and shows that both parties agree to the content of the contract.

Where would a countersignature be needed?

A countersignature is needed whenever a document needs authentication. Such documents include:

  • rental and mortgage applications
  • health documents and insurance contracts
  • checks, in order to deposit or cash them
  • passports and visas in certain countries

Does it matter who signs first?

Legally it doesn’t matter who signs the contract first. 

What if you sign but the other party doesn’t?

The contract would not be legally binding unless all parties have signed. Often the business issuing the agreement doesn’t sign until the other party does.

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What should you consider when signing a contract?

  1. First, read the contract in its entirety. If there is anything you don’t understand, do not sign the contract.
  2. Verify that the correct legal names of everyone involved are used throughout the contract.
  3. Check that the contact information for all parties is correct.
  4. Check that effective date, pricing, deadlines, and the duration of the contract are right.
  5. Read and verify any addendums or additional documents referenced in the contract.
  6. Understand any penalties like late fees that the contract outlines.
  7. Check to see how any disputes to the contract will be resolved.
  8. Review the contract and ensure there are no blank spaces or areas where things could be added without your consent.
  9. Make sure to initial any last-minute addition or changes to the contract.
  10. If you have any doubts, do not sign the contract and see legal advice before you sign.
  11. Ensure that the correct date is on the contract.
  12. Verify that the people signing have the authority to do so.
  13. Once you’ve signed, keep a copy of the contract.

An adequately signed contract protects both the business and the client, so it is essential to take the time to thoroughly review before signing. 

Using electronic signatures to countersign documents

To speed up the process of signing contracts and documents that require signatures, many companies are now using electronic signatures. This is an easy way to ensure a fully executed contract. Using online software, agreements can be sent electronically, and all parties can sign via e-signature. Signing via a computer or mobile device makes it much faster than dealing with hard copies or faxes.

As soon as the client has signed, you are notified that the contract is ready for countersignature. No more waiting on printed paperwork or struggling to find a meeting time to sign hard copies in person. E-signatures are more convenient and fast – and legally binding.

Additionally, legal documents signed with e-signatures are stored within a cloud-based solution. These online cloud repositories must adhere to strict security requirements and are, therefore, a secure place to store the documents. Cloud providers follow guidelines for both private- and public-sector organizations, and frequently audited to ensure they are maintaining compliance. And by storing your documentation in the cloud, you’re able to access documents from anywhere in the world, anytime, on any device.

What are the benefits of online countersignatures?

  • It is simple and straightforward – anyone with a computer, tablet, or mobile device can use an online countersignature or e-signature.
  • It is so convenient to be able to use electronic signatures instead of pen and paper. 
  • You can track the contract and see who has signed and who hasn’t. 
  • They are secure and legally binding.
  • It increases productivity and saves time.
  • You can manage your contracts from anywhere.

Signing and countersigning contracts doesn’t have to be difficult or confusing. Using electronic signature software to execute contracts is an easy way for your business to speed up processes and meet client needs, too.

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