Conformed Signature

A conformed signature is a typed signature that is used to validate a contract. Generally, parties would sign the contract the old-fashioned way, by signing the document in front of one another. However, in today’s day and age, most contracts involve conformed signatures that are typed, dated, and submitted on a computer or smartphone. While one of the parties included his conformed signature, the other party generally has the original contract with an actual hand written signature. Conformed signatures are usually admissible as legal evidence of the existence of a legally binding contract, even if the original contract is lost or destroyed.

Conformed Signature in an Electronic Era

Since we all operate primarily electronically in some way or another, it is common for companies and people to enter into contracts by submitting a conformed signature. For example, assume that you are seeking automobile insurance from an insurance company. The company cannot keep up with having to require consumers sign the original document and return by mail. Therefore, consumers will simply sign the document electronically, which is generally accompanied by either the current date or last four digits of the individual’s social security number. Once the consumer hits the submit button, that constitutes the validity of the contract. Such businesses have key codes and other features to prove that the person submitting the form is the intended person involved in the contract.

In fact, the State of Delaware allows faxed and emailed copies of documents that require signatures. This is because the Secretary of State’s office wholly understands that it would be impossible to keep track of original signatures; it would also delay the work expected to occur in the contract, as the original contract would have to be mailed to the other party before it becomes a legally binding document.

Even smartphones have features that allow you to open an e-mail attachment, use a conformed signature, and return it to the other party. Prior to the digital age, stock amendments required original signatures. However, such amendments allow for a conformed signature to improve the issuance of stock certificates in a timely manner.

While a lot of states allow conformed signatures in contracts, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) doesn’t allow such signatures; therefore, SS4 forms and other tax documents must have an original signature.

Types of Signatures

While some might only assume that there are original or conformed signatures, there are a few types of signatures that are treated differently depending on the state in which you reside and do business. Such signature types include:

  1. Original signature
  2. Conformed signature
  3. Faxed or scanned signature
  4. Electronic signature

While a lot of states allow conformed signatures, including Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Nevada, New York, and Utah, there are several states that still require original signatures. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, New Mexico, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. Even in those states allowing conformed signatures, there might be certain circumstances or situations when an original signature is required. An example of this would be a corporate document submitted in the State of Florida; an LLC document can include a conformed signature, whereas a corporation document cannot. Furthermore, the conformed signature must follow a certain format, i.e., /s/ name of person.

While most states allow a faxed or scanned signature, be sure to check with the Secretary of State’s office to confirm if you can use this method of signing the document. If, for example, you rescan a faxed document, it might be rejected.

An electronic signature, while similar to a conformed signature, might in fact be different. For example, when purchasing goods at a store, you might be required to use a stylus to sign a signature pad. However, not many states allow this signature, due to the fact that this type of technology is newer. For example, California, Nevada, New Jersey, and Louisiana accept a scanned signature, but don’t accept an electronic signature. However, as these signatures become more common, other states will begin allowing electronic signatures as a valid and legally binding form of entering into a contract.

If you need help learning more about a conformed signature, or whether or not you can use a conformed signature for a contract, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.