A contract signatory is necessary on contracts. The signature functions as a handwritten depiction that can serve as proof of identity. While most signatures contain the spelling of the creator's name, a signature can be written in a number of ways and can encompass marks and actions of all sorts. Unless a statute precisely outlines a specific method to be used when making a signature, then the creator is free to choose a unique personal signature. It is of extreme importance that the creator continues to use the same signature throughout the process of signing legal contracts.

What Does a Contract Signature Do?

A signature on a contract document binds an agreement between two parties. Once the contract has all required signatures, the document becomes legally binding. Individuals or parties who sign an agreement are referred to as signatories.

A signatory can be an individual or it can be an individual authorized to represent an entity or government body by providing his or her signature. Corporations have bylaws specifying how a company is to be operated. The names of those authorized to carry out and sign official documents for the company will be outlined in these bylaws.

What Is an Attorney-In-Fact?

As a precaution, it is advised that individuals create a Power of Attorney to appoint a person, also known as an Attorney-in-Fact, who will have the authorization to make financial and business decisions that are in the best interest of the person who is being represented. The Power of Attorney outlines who can represent the person in the event that the individual cannot represent him or herself.

The Attorney-in-Fact does not have to be an actual practicing attorney; it can be a family member or friend. Worth noting, the Attorney-in-Fact is limited to acting on the individual's behalf only while the individual is living. More so, the Attorney-in-Fact can only make decisions on behalf of the person when the person has control of assets that are not held in a trust.

Do Contracts Need Witnesses?

Contracts will often require the signature of a witness to attest to the contract's validity in terms of legality. It's not unusual for a contract to request a minimum of two witnesses. A witness is considered a neutral third party with no interest or intentions in the legal contract. For example, someone listed as a beneficiary in a person's will or testament document should not have the right to bear official witness to its execution.

A notary public is appointed by state governments and serves the public by authenticating certain documents. Depending on the jurisdiction, a notary may administer oaths, provide acknowledgments, and perform other official acts.

Once a document is notarized the court will not question the validity of the signatures, this means the document is “self-authenticating.”

There is a legal obligation once a signatory signs a document. One example of a signatory is a co-signer on a loan. Contracts will vary in the number of signatories required. Documents that often require a signatory include:

  • Marriage licenses
  • Mortgage papers
  • Adoption documents
  • Lawsuits
  • Employment contracts

Where Does the Signature Go On a Document?

A contract signature line may include “Authorized Signatory” after “Title,” this is where an authorized individual can physically sign the document on behalf of the entity it represents.

The contract signature page can affect whether a document is enforceable, so it's important to understand and know what is required when signing the document. For most legal documents, the signing page is the very last page of the document and is referred to as the signing page. While not all documents will appear the same, for the most part, a dark line with each individual or company name will be below the signature line. There could be a line provided for you to print your name, or to provide additional contact information, such as an address or phone number.

What Is the Purpose of Initialing Contracts?

In addition, there are contracts that request the signatory to initial every page, as well as sign the last page, such as last wills and testaments. The purpose of initialing every page serves as proof that each page was read. Especially in last will and testament documents, it is essential that each page is read to help minimize common misunderstandings that often occur once an individual has passed away. Most contracts will not provide a specified line for initials, but it is best to initial in the same area on each page.

If you need help with a contract signatory, 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.