What is a legal signature and what are its requirements?

Traditionally, a signature refers to a mark that distinct personal identification on a form which is the physical proof that the signer agrees on every part written in the document. But what is a legal signature?

A legal signature is used to provide authority to someone concerning your business needs. The methods that people used to do business have evolved greatly. The signatures with ink (wet signatures) are almost eliminated. People are now streamlining business operations by moving towards digital formats.

As businesses are gaining online reach day by day, the use of digital signatures has also gained the hype. This has changed people’s behavior of doing business and authorizing contracts. Even though, the long process of printing, signing, and scanning the documents have become tedious compared to the methods a business runs in the current time. Moreover, digital signatures streamline solutions that are time and money-saving.

What are e-signatures?

A typed signature or e-signature refers to the signature when someone uses its original signature and adds a scanned image to the document. With the evolution in the digital world, in which the concept of wet signature is somewhat obsoleted, the definition of a legal signature has also shifted to a new level. 

Significantly for the business owners who work globally from their homes such as freelancers. Electronic signatures facilitate them to complete the requirements of legal documents such as quotes, proposals, contracts, agreements, etc.

No matter what form of signature people use to proceed with their business process, the essential thing is that the use of the form or document to prove that the signer has agreed to the written statements.

Additionally, being the representative of the signee, any kind of form marked with it will be considered legal.

Does a signature have to be your full name?

It is essentially not necessary to have your full name with all the letters present in your signature. Regardless of whether the document is e-signed or has a wet signature if the signee has consented to the outlined information, it will be assumed as accepted.

This is why it is not a legal obligation to have your full name in your signature. You just need to be careful that you should not add any illegal marks or add a squiggle when making an e-signature.

Since the framework of legal signatures is different from one country to another, the requirements of the e-signature may remain the same in each jurisdiction. 

Different countries define different enforceable laws for e-signature. This includes: 

Can you use your initials as a legal signature?

You are allowed to use your initials as a legal signature. But, you need to make sure that your signature should match the signature you have made on other legal documents. 

For instance, if you have signed your driving license with just ‘LM’ instead of signing with your full name, then it becomes your legal obligation to use ‘LM’ for any other legal document that you sign further.

With this, you will be protected from any legal ramifications that you may face through your bank or any other government institute which keeps records through signatures.

Requirements of a legal digital signature

Depending on the state you live in, there may be different legal requirements that you need to meet. Every jurisdiction differs in terms of rules and regulations when it comes to electronic and digital signatures.

The validity of a signature consists of a range of actions and marks. These marks and actions may help in indicating the intent and identity of the signee.

The legal rules for digital signature in the United States say that until and unless a document illustrates a specific signature method to sign, there can be several ways that you can make it.

This means that a document whether digital or physical can be signed either way until the signee affirms that he agrees on the information outlined in it.


1. Are both parties required to sign the document?

If there’s a written agreement taken place, both parties have to sign to make the contract enforceable. On the other hand, many oral legal contacts are there that don’t require a signature.

2. Is it legal not to sign a contract?

Contracts with legal bindings must be signed by all the involved parties. Typically, the documents are signed to make them executable for all the parties that have agreed upon.

3. Can you refuse to sign a document or contract?

Sometimes in the middle of a contract, it becomes necessary to bring changes in the contract. However, there’s no option for the individual instead of refusing to sign the updated document in some cases. Although, the other party can be charged for not honoring the old agreement and wants everyone to sign it. 

For instance, an employer distributed an updated contract and requires every employee to sign it.

4. Can I forcibly take someone’s signatures?

 In case when a party is forced or threatened to sign a document, the document will be considered void. Federal laws are against forcing someone to sign a contract. Threatening and blackmailing someone to sign the contract will not come into effect and will remain invalid.

5. Can you have someone’s signature by tricking them?

Precisely, when someone signs a contract, this means they have read and understood the information in the documents and are agreed on that. Yes, you can take someone’s signature by tricking them, but later if they prove that they didn’t know the consequences and implications of the contract, the document may become invalid.

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