With the coming of the digital age, it has taken time for many aspects of the paper workplace to catch up. One of these was the concept of the signature on a contract. Many contracts needed to be rushed between two business partners or require expensive travel in order to be signed and completed. E-signatures have allowed this to change. 

E-signatures are a method in which many documents can be signed without having to resort to archaic pens and flourishes. An e-signature replaces the standard signature and can happen almost instantly! What’s great is that e-signatures can be just as legally binding as any other type of signature. The use of e-signatures continues to increase through wonderfully created software offerings that usually help with all the aspects of document management. 

E-Signature Legality

The legality of e-signatures is perhaps easier than most people realize. If both parties intend to enter into the agreement on the document and consent to the use of e-signatures, then they will typically be a proper form of legal agreement. When both sides consent, the other requirement is that they use a software program that records the digital signature and stores the record so that it can be reproduced. If a legal challenge were to occur and it can’t be proven that both sides signed digitally, then it’s possible the contract could be null and void. 

It’s important to note that not all documents can use an e-signature on them. Many documents need to have witnesses to the agreement, who are then also required to sign the document. In some cases, notaries are required to authenticate documents. In these cases, it’s typically not possible to use an e-signature legally. 

E-Signature Software

If you’re looking to use e-signatures legally, then you need to use software which makes a record of the signature that can be brought forward in the future. Thankfully, there are many different software programs that are available. Some of the best include:

  • SignNow - This e-signature program functions on ease of use and simplicity. The goal is to make signing documents quick, but offer the customization and security that users will be looking for. 
  • PandaDoc - This is one of the best and most popular document management software solutions out there. PandaDoc helps share documents within a business, or between multiple businesses and makes all of them available at the press of a button. 
  • ZohoSign - ZohoSign offers a wide variety of features including multiple language support, reminders when documents may need to be signed, and the ability to follow audit trails. There’s also authentication codes required for some signers to ensure there’s never a case of misrepresentation. 
  • Sertifi - Sertifi works excellently at taking complicated workflows and finding methods to help automate them so people are dealing less with document management. It also provides real time updates on contracts that have been sent out and will pre-populate data whenever possible. 

Top 5 “Routes” for E-Signatures

When it comes to e-signatures, it’s good to have as much information as possible. Really, that can be said for every aspect of the legal process. What follows are some experts in the field, with information that can help enlighten and enrich your education on e-signatures.

  1. Adobe - As the creator of the pdf file, adobe has been involved in digital documents from the start. This resource helps explain the full legality of e signatures and digital signatures. 
  2. CISA - This section of the department of homeland security is concerned with cyber safety and infrastructure. They can help explain the difference between digital signatures and e-signatures and how they should work. 
  3. JotForm - A simple creator of business form builders for online use, JotForm often has to make use of e-signatures and helps explain every aspect of their use in business. 
  4. DocuSign - Another provider of products, DocuSign can also provide a lot of information into the history of e-signatures and how they have become valid. 
  5. ApproveMe.com - This creator of software features a large number of resources, and also can integrate e-signing into other programs. Their information includes how the esign act works legally. 

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