Signing a document is an essential part of day-to-day business. In the past, a considerable amount of time was spent converting documents into hard copies and delivering them to the relevant parties for signatures. With the advent of electronic signatures, documents can now be signed online quickly and conveniently.This article will be your guide to e-signature basics and the E-Sign Act, which is the federal law granting legal recognition to electronic signatures.
What Is The E-Sign Act?
Before you start using electronic signatures, it’s helpful to understand the E-Sign Act. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-Sign) Act was signed on June 30, 2000. It declared the legitimacy of electronic signatures for transactions affecting interstate and foreign commerce.
The E-Sign Act validates the use of electronic records for consensual written agreements. This act states that an electronic record, contract, or e-signature cannot be denied on the basis of its electronic format.
E-Sign Act Requirements
Before an electronic document is ready to be signed, certain requirements should be fulfilled to ensure it will be considered a legally binding contract. The FDIC’s E-Sign manual outlining these requirements is available here. Below is a general overview of some of the requirements:
- Consumer Disclosures
Financial institutions are required to inform consumers of the option to receive their disclosures in paper form. They must also inform the consumer of the right to withdraw their consent to electronic documents, and make the consumer aware of any fees involved regarding the withdrawal. Consumers must also be notified of the hardware and software requirements necessary to access the electronic documents, and must be kept informed of any changes in this regard.
- Record Retention
The E-Sign Act requires financial institutions to keep accurate records of their electronic documents and ensure that all legally involved parties are provided access to them.
- Regulatory and Other Actions
In 2001, the Federal Reserve Board issued additional guidance and standards to help regulate the use of electronic documents and e-signatures. You can find details regarding these standards here.
Which Documents Can Be Signed Electronically?
Various business documents can be signed electronically, including:
This includes confidentiality/confidential disclosure agreements.
Used for student absence notifications, grade disputes, accessibility forms, and leave of absence documents.
Agreements between a seller and buyer regarding the sale of goods or services.
Statements of Work
An agreement outlining terms of work between a vendor and client.
Documents issued between a buyer and a seller indicating the type, quantity, and agreed upon price for products or services.
Patient intake forms
Documents designed to collect important information regarding patients at medical practices.
These are just a few of the many documents that can be signed electronically according to the E-Sign Act. Some of these electronic documents are readily available as free templates on e-signature platforms such as Signaturely.
You can access this wide range of templates via a free Signaturely account. Their templates can easily be adjusted to fit your needs. When your document is ready to go, simply add your signature, and download the document.
What Documents Cannot Be Signed Electronically?
According to the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA), electronic signatures are not legally valid for the following documents:
- Testamentary trusts and wills
- Documents regarding adoptions and family law
- Official court documents
- Utility service cancellation notifications
- Notices of default and eviction
- Health or life insurance policy termination notices
- Recall notices for products that pose a health risk
- Documents regarding the transport of hazardous materials, pesticides, or other toxic substances
If you’re unsure whether or not your e-signed document is in compliance, check the laws in your local jurisdiction.
How Can I E-sign Documents For Free?
Signaturely offers a free, simple, and efficient way to e-sign documents. Here are some simple steps to start using their platform:
- Create a free account.
- Select “Consumer.” This could be you or other parties who will add their signatures.
- Upload your document, or choose a template to edit according to your needs.
- Add your electronic signature. Signaturely will help you create your own signature if you don’t already have one.
- Save your work. Signaturely gives you the option to store your document on their secure platform for easy future access.
- Download your document. You also have the option to download your document directly to your device.
Signaturely’s software complies with the E-Sign act, and is an excellent way to efficiently sign and store your important documents.
E-Sign Act FAQs
The E-Sign Act authorizes the use of e-signatures for the purpose of legal documentation between two parties. Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding this topic:
What is the purpose of the E-sign act?
The E-Sign Act validates the use of electronic signatures for legally binding documents. It is a way to regulate and ensure the consistent use of e-signatures in interstate and foreign commerce.
How can I digitally sign a PDF for free?
You can digitally sign a PDF for free using e-signature platforms, such as Signaturely. If you have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can use their “Fill and Sign” feature to add your signature or initials to the document.
Here’s What You Need To Remember About The E-Sign Act
The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-Sign) Act was created to legitimise the use of e-signatures for documents involved in interstate and foreign commerce. If you want to ensure that your e-signatures are legally binding, use e-signature software like Signaturely. Their easy-to-use platform is an excellent tool for signing and storing your most important documents. Try them today, for free.