Document digitalization has certainly made managing paperwork simpler as certain tasks such as getting documents signed can now be automated or done online. All thanks to technological advancements, you do not have to wait a long time to accomplish an otherwise long and winding process.
One of the people’s major concerns with this modern way of handling documents is: is it even legal? Signing documents online using electronic or digital signatures is honored in various parts of the world. You may also opt to use an electronic signature agreement template to ensure that both parties have consented to this method of document signing.
In this article, we will explore various ways to ensure that your document is legally binding.
Table of Contents
- What makes a document legally binding?
- How do you make a document enforceable?
- What are examples of an electronic signature template?
What makes a document legally binding?
No matter your profession and regardless of the industry you belong to, it’s always important that you know your way around managing and handling documents of any kind. It’s even more crucial when you constantly have to deal with legally binding documents.
But before anything else, what constitutes a legally binding document? What elements do you need to look for to know that the document has legal weight?
Generally speaking, for a document to be legally valid and honored, it must have these two key elements:
- All the parties involved must have a mutual understanding and agreement on the terms and conditions stipulated in the document.
- There must be a clear stipulation of how a service or product should be compensated.
Once all entities have agreed and signed the document, it can already be considered legally binding.
You may ask, does a document have to be notarized to be accepted as legal and valid? The simple answer is no. While it further solidifies the legality of your document, it’s not a pre-requisite. Any agreement signed and consented to by all parties involved can be enforceable.
If you manage your documents online and use electronic signatures, it might also be ideal to use one of the electronic signature agreement templates for good measure.
How do you make a document enforceable?
Aside from those two key elements we just discussed, how can you ensure that your contracts and agreements are enforceable? Here are our top tips:
1. Include important dates in the contract.
The dates determine two important aspects of your contract: when it was signed and how long this agreement is valid or when it expires. Although it’s not entirely required to date contracts, it helps to add the important dates to ensure that all parties know the proper chronological context of the contract.
2. Take advantage of online tools and software.
We live in a highly digital time where most transactions can be done online. It is now possible to enter into any agreement virtually. If you choose to go the digital route, we strongly recommend using online tools specifically designed to handle documents.
For instance, Fill, an electronic signature application, allows you to securely share documents with other parties with just a click of a button. It makes the entire process simpler and quicker. But more importantly, you will be able to receive audit trails and logs in real-time, so you know the progress of your document. This can also be a supporting document to ensure further that your documents are enforceable.
Are electronic signatures legal? Find out here.
3. Use an electronic signature agreement template.
An electronic signature agreement template, to put it very simple, contains clauses that state both parties have agreed to sign specific documents electronically or digitally. Think of it as some type of consent form that proves you and the other individuals or organizations involved will enter into an agreement and that the deal will be legally binding and admissible in a court of law.
You usually attach an electronic signature agreement template to the actual agreement or contract so they can sign it simultaneously. Others also include this in the actual contract as an additional clause.
What are examples of an electronic signature agreement template?
Here are a few samples of an electronic signature template you may take notes from:
Electronic signature agreement template when used as a clause:
15. Electronic Signatures. Each party agrees that the electronic signatures, whether digital or encrypted, of the parties included in this Agreement, if any, are intended to authenticate this writing and to have the same force and effect as manual signatures.
The term “electronic signature” means any electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed and adopted by a party with the intent to sign such record, including facsimile or email electronic signatures. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, delivery of an executed counterpart’s signature page of this Agreement, by facsimile, electronic mail in portable document format (.pdf) or by any other electronic means intended to preserve the original graphic and pictorial appearance of a document, has the same effect as delivery of an executed original of this Agreement.
Source: Andrea Electronics Corporation
Electronic signature template when used as an attachment or separate document:
By selecting the “I Accept” button, you are signing this Agreement electronically. You agree your electronic signature is the legal equivalent of your manual/handwritten signature on this Agreement. By selecting “I Accept” using any device, means or action, you consent to the legally binding terms and conditions of this Agreement. You further agree that your signature on this document (hereafter referred to as your “E-Signature”) is as valid as if you signed the document in writing.
You also agree that no certification authority or other third party verification is necessary to validate your E-Signature, and that the lack of such certification or third party verification will not in any way affect the enforceability of your E-Signature or any resulting agreement between you and NOVA Financial Aid Office. You are also confirming that you are the student authorized to enter into this Agreement. You further agree that each use of your NOVA email equates to your E-Signature and constitutes your agreement to be bound by the terms and conditions of these Disclosures and Agreement as they exist on the date of your E-Signature on this form.
Source: Northern Virginia Community College
Truly, the digital era has completely transformed how people manage their documents. It’s certainly life-changing as it makes even the most daunting task more manageable. Moreover, processing documents online or digitally can now be considered legal when you do the things we just mentioned in the article and use an electronic signature agreement template.