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Signature - Requisites And Validity, Abbreviations, Initials, Or Mark, Hand Of Party Or Another, Digital Signatures - Method

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Lemuel Shaw Biography to Special plea

A mark or sign made by an individual on an instrument or document to signify knowledge, approval, acceptance, or obligation.

The term signature is generally understood to mean the signing of a written document with one's own hand. However, it is not critical that a signature actually be written by hand for it to be legally valid. It may, for example, be typewritten, engraved, or stamped. The purpose of a signature is to authenticate a writing, or provide notice of its source, and to bind the individual signing the writing by the provisions contained in the document.

Because a signature can obligate a party to terms of a contract or verify that the person intended to make a last will and testament, the law has developed rules that govern what constitutes a legally valid signature. The INTERNET and other forms of telecommunication have created the need to transact legally binding agreements electronically. Almost all states have passed laws that recognize the validity of "digital signatures."

Method

Ordinarily a signature can be affixed in a number of different ways. It can be hand written, printed, stamped, typewritten, engraved, or photographed. This allows, for example, a business to issue its payroll checks with the signature of its financial officer stamped rather than handwritten.

CROSS-REFERENCES

Authentication.

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