The world is going electronic. From IRA applications to real estate contracts – almost all of what was previously daunting paperwork has evolved into electronic form. And the way we sign these documents (e-signatures) has changed too.
E-signatures (electronic signatures) have become the widely accepted standard across all industries. At Midland, we have adopted using e-signatures on almost all of our client documentation. This has allowed us to become more efficient with client requests.
TIPS AND SUGGESTED BEST PRACTICES FOR USING E-SIGNATURES
CHECK REQUIREMENTS BEFORE YOU SIGN
Not all e-signatures are the same. While word processors and PDF editors allow you to type out or insert an image of your signature, you want to make sure that the recipient of the document you are signing will be able to accept that signature. The party you are working with may require you to use an e-signature service that offers a form of authentication.
DETERMINE WHAT DEVICE YOU WILL BE USING
The device you are using to e-sign will also contribute to how easy (or difficult) signing will be. For example, if you are using a desktop or laptop, it may be easier to insert a scanned image of your signature using a PDF editor. Or if you are using your phone, using your finger or stylus could be an easy way to draw your e-signature. Also, keep in mind that desktop and app versions of the same program (for example Microsoft Word) may differ in functionality.
With any device, a web-based e-signature service should be pretty user-friendly; however, remember that you will need to be able to access the internet from whichever device you use.
CHOOSE THE E-SIGNATURE PRODUCT YOU WILL USE
As touched on above, web-based e-signature services should be easy to use whether you are using a desktop or your smartphone. Arguably the most well-known service and one that we use at Midland is DocuSign.
When it comes to receiving signature invitations for a web-based e-signature service, be sure you are familiar with the sender or are expecting the invitation. Never open links in an email if you are not sure who it is from, or if you were not expecting it! If you unexpectedly receive an email requesting your signature, call the sender at a number that you find on your own, not the one listed in the email.
Whether you opt to use DocuSign or you prefer another web-based service, just be sure to confirm that the service you use will be accepted by the party receiving the signed documents.
PDF editing software, such as Adobe Acrobat or Foxit Phantom, allows you to add signatures directly onto a PDF file. From the toolbar, there should be a “Sign” option. There are typically three ways to create a signature in a PDF editor: typing your signature, drawing your signature, or uploading an image of your signature.
With typing your signature, you simply type your name into the field. However, some issues can arise with using this feature. Since the signature ends up being pretty generic, typed signatures are typically not acceptable on legal documents.
Another option is to draw your signature. While this will be closer in appearance to your pen-signature, you will want to confirm with the receiving party that this is acceptable.
The last option you have with a PDF Editor would be to add an image of your pen-signature. Before choosing this option, you should first be sure you have a copy of your pen-signature saved as an image file (.jpeg, .png) on your computer or cloud storage. Some institutions may not accept this “stamp” of your pen-signature, so just be sure to confirm that this is acceptable prior to submitting your signed paperwork.
Similar to creating an image signature with a PDF Editor, you can insert an image of your signature into a word processor (such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs).
As our world continues to grow more sustainability-conscious and technology-driven, it is safe to say that e-signatures are here to stay. While the above touched on several different types of e-signatures, this does not encompass all of the options available. Whichever e-signing method you choose, be sure to check its acceptability and verify the sender before clicking any unexpected email links!
If you have any questions about this article or would like more information, please feel free to contact Midland at (239) 333-1032, or visit www.midlandtrust.com.