The Ultimate Guide to Legally Binding Electronic Signatures
Are Electronic Signatures Legally Binding?
The statistics around electronic signatures are mind-blowing, showing that many business owners want to transition to a paperless workplace. According to Statista, in just five years, e-signature usage has increased from 89 million to a whopping 754 million worldwide. Before you decide for your business, you need to know the answer to one question: Are electronic signatures legally binding?
The Simple, Legal Way To Sign Electronic Documents
In the United States, e-signatures are legally binding for all business, government and commercial forms. Documents can’t be invalidated solely because of being electronic instead of paper or because they carry an electronic signature instead of ink.
The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) deals with e-signatures on a state level. The federal Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act backs up electronic signatures throughout the country. A few states have their own laws supporting the validity of e-signed documents, such as New York and Washington.
A Few Exceptions
In matters of estates, family law, and other court proceedings, electronic documents and e-signatures aren’t generally accepted. For example, wills, divorce papers, court orders, motions, and foreclosure notices still require paper forms with ink signatures to be valid.
What about notarized forms? Some states allow you to e-sign documents in front of a notary public via video conferencing. Other states require you to appear in person with ink and paper. Check the rules with the National Notary Association in your state before taking the next step.
Smart Ways To Use an E-Signature
There are many situations when an e-signature can save your business time and money:
- Shipping receipts
- Purchase orders
- Employment contracts
- Employee paycheck forms
- Insurance forms
- Liability waivers and consent forms
- Real estate contracts
- Tax documents
The Benefits of Electronic Signatures
Electronic signatures have been gaining popularity over the years due to the many benefits they offer. Digital signatures, as opposed to handwritten signatures, are much more flexible and can be done from anywhere at any time. With the rise of mobile devices, digital signatures have become even more convenient, allowing you to sign documents on the go from your phone or tablet.
The speed at which electronic signatures can be obtained is another major benefit. While ink signatures can take days or even weeks to obtain, electronic signatures can be requested and obtained instantly. This can be a major time-saver for businesses that need to sign contracts and forms quickly.
In addition to being fast and convenient, electronic signatures are also simple to use. Creating an authorized e-signature only takes a minute, and once you’ve done that, you can e-sign any electronic document in seconds. This is as easy as point and clicks. With an online PDF editor like PDFSimpli, e-signing has never been easier.
Another benefit of electronic signatures is that they are eco-friendly. By adopting electronic documents and e-signatures, businesses can reduce their paper usage, which is good for the environment. Office workers in the U.S. use an average of 10,000 sheets of paper every year, so this is a significant reduction in waste.
Finally, e-signatures can also be cost-effective. With electronic signatures, you don’t have to pay for postage or next-day-air deliveries. All you need is an email address and an online PDF editor, and you’re good to go. This can save businesses a lot of money over time.
In conclusion, electronic signatures offer many benefits over traditional ink signatures. They are flexible, fast, convenient, simple, eco-friendly, and cost-effective. By using electronic signatures, businesses can streamline their operations and reduce their environmental impact while saving time and money.
Key points on how e-signatures can save you time, money and reduce your environmental impact:
- Flexible: Electronic forms are available online 24/7. Thanks to PDFSimpli, so is your electronic signature. You can e-sign from your office, at home, on a plane, in a hotel room, stuck in traffic on the highway — anywhere!
- Fast: The ability to e-sign speeds up your workflow. The majority of businesses using ink signatures need an extra day just for the signing process, which is a major waste. You can request an e-signature for forms and contracts instantly. All parties get a copy quickly, whether they live across town or on the other side of the world.
- Convenient: Forget about driving across town to sign contracts or forms. Forget about playing signature ping-pong for weeks with important clients. You can e-sign without leaving your office.
- Simple: Creating your authorized e-signature in PDFSimpli only takes a minute. Once you’ve done that, you can e-sign any electronic document in seconds. It’s as easy as point and click.
- Eco-friendly: Office workers in the U.S. use an average of 10,000 sheets of paper every year! Imagine how many trees are required for all that paper. Adopting electronic documents and e-signatures is good for the environment.
- Cheap: With e-signatures, you don’t have to pay for postage or next-day-air deliveries. All you need is an email address and an online PDF editor, and you’re good to go.
Conventional signatures require workers to use their valuable time better spent elsewhere.
The golden age of digital documents is here, and e-signatures are your ticket to success.
Quick Guide to E-Signing Your Document in PDFSimpli
The e-sign process is a breeze. Here’s what to do:
- Step 1: Click on the Sign Tool from the Quick Access menu.
- Step 2: Upload an existing PDF file, convert another file to PDF (such as Convert Word to PDF), or choose one of the files in your PDFSimpli account.
- Step 3: Click on the Signature Tool from the top of the page. If you haven’t added your e-signature before, a pop-up will appear to help you get started.
- Step 4: Fill in the fields with your personal information to confirm your identity before e-signing. This is vital for the signature to be legally binding.
- Step 5: Choose how you want to add your signature. You can type your name with the Type in Keyboard option, use the Draw with Mouse option, Upload an Image of your signature, or Use Touchscreen with your device.
- Step 6: Click the Create button. Next, click on the document where you want your e-signature to appear. The gear icon lets you adjust the size.
Tips for Using Electronic Signatures for Documents
When it comes to the legality of electronic signatures, it’s important to remember that they are subject to the same legal standards as traditional ink signatures. In other words, the signature must demonstrate the signatory’s intent and consent to be legally binding.
To meet these standards, there are various requirements that electronic signatures must meet. One of the most important is the use of a digital certificate, which acts as a form of identification and verification for the signatory. A digital certificate is a type of electronic ID that is used to sign documents securely and is issued by a trusted third party, such as a certificate authority.
Another requirement for electronic signatures to be legally binding is the use of encryption to protect the integrity of the signature. Encryption is used to ensure that the signature cannot be tampered with or altered after it has been signed.
In addition to these technical requirements, there are also legal requirements that must be met for an electronic signature to be valid. For example, the signatory must have the legal authority to sign the document, and the document must be legally binding.
Overall, while electronic signatures offer many benefits, it’s important to ensure that they meet the necessary legal standards to be considered valid. By using a trusted third-party digital certificate, encrypting the signature, and ensuring that the signatory has the legal authority to sign the document, businesses can ensure that their electronic signatures are legally binding and enforceable
To make sure your documents e-signatures are legally binding:
- Have the user confirm their intent: When sending a document for e-signature, make sure the person signing is the one that clicks to add their electronic signature. In other words, you can’t add a signature for someone else and have them approve it. This is why PDFSimpli has each user go through several steps to set up and add their e-signature to the document.
- Explain terms clearly: Keep the language in your document easy to understand. Cover all your bases legally, but don’t use confusing language the reader can’t understand. The e-signature process must have a clear disclosure, such as “If you agree to the terms of this form, click here to add your electronic signature.”
- Provide copies to all parties: Every person signing must receive a copy of the document once signed. For example, if three parties are required to e-sign, all three should get a finalized PDF containing all of the e-signatures.
- Always use PDF files: Never add your electronic signature to unprotected documents that can be changed after signing, such as Microsoft Word files. PDFs are globally recognized as the standard for document security because they let you protect the content of documents with a password and secure encryption when e-signing.
A simple method to ensure the validity of your digital signature is to use PDFSimpli.
Our software ensures the legality of your e-signature by using industry-standard encryption to protect the integrity of the signature. This ensures that the signature cannot be tampered with or altered after it has been signed. Additionally, PDFSimpli offers a range of tools to help you create a legally binding signature, including the ability to add a digital certificate and verify the identity of the signatory.
Isabel Landrau is a staff writer at WorkSimpli. Her background in Business Operations motivates her to improve access to legal advice in underserved groups, especially in areas like business formation...
Convert to Any File
Our software makes quick work of file conversion from your PDF. Just upload a PDF to get started!GET STARTED