A countersigned contract is a very useful tool that you have probably signed multiple times without realizing it. Such a document is necessary to ensure all parties to a contract have thoroughly reviewed the agreement and are fine with the terms outlined in it.

What is a Countersignature?

A countersignature is an additional signature that is placed on a document after it has already been signed. It is a way to provide authentication and confirmation.

In many cases, a countersignature is used by a professional or official, like an attorney or doctor. It is done to certify that an action that has taken place, or to certify that any provisions in the agreement have been approved by all parties.

When two different parties sign a contract, the first party signs. The second party will then countersign to ensure their agreement with the contract. Countersignatures are common in almost all business transactions.

Most all contracts will have two signatures on them. The first party will read the agreement and sign if they are willing to take on the terms. The second party will countersign the agreement to confirm that they are happy with the contract.

A countersignature is necessary on a variety of documents. Some countries even require a countersignature on a passport.

Health and legal documents as well as mortgage documents will also require a countersignature.

Key Things to Consider When Preparing and Signing a Contract

1.     Make sure that you have read the whole contract to make sure you fully understand your responsibilities and rights. You should know which rights and responsibilities are in the agreement. Do not ever sign a contract that you cannot understand. Consult with an attorney if you need any clarification.

2.     Always make sure that parties are correctly identified, including contact information. Make sure to use the entire name of a business to prevent any confusion. Also, list the corporate officers if applicable.

3.     Be sure to go over the business terms before you sign a contract to make sure that it has correctly identified the agreement of everyone involved. You will need to also ensure that all terms amended have been countersigned if you agree with them.

4.     If an additional document is referenced in the contract, carefully read that document before you sign. Never assume what is in a contract based on the title.

5.     Be sure to know what could cause you to go into default with regard to the contract. Also, be sure to know what will constitute a default. Find out the worst-case scenario should you default. Also, discuss your liability with your attorney.

6.     Go over the causes for termination of the contract. You attorney will likely include any clauses. Go over the potential reasons for a terminated contract and whether or not any money will be returned.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will you be bound by a contract that has no countersignature if you have signed it already?

Mutual assent is necessary for a contract to be legal. Signatures by both parties will demonstrate mutual assent. Compliance is required to form a contract if assent is required. For example, if it is specified that you have to show assent by standing on your head for ten seconds, you will have to do that to form a contract. Without this requirement, you can show assent in any way that is reasonable.

Should you sign a contract before you send it to be signed by the other party?

In the eyes of the law, it will not matter who signs the document first as long as you have agreed to do so. Ideally, it is better to sign second if you can. This is helpful if you expect any amendments to be made. If you sign last, you will not need to sign counterchanges later should amendments be needed.

The thing to keep in mind is that you should never leave anything blank, whether it is in paper form or through electronic media. If amendments are made, you will see them more easily once you go over the contract.

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