Overview of electronic signature legality in the United States
eSignatures have been recognized in the United States on a national level since 2000 through The United States Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN Act 2000). A year before, 47 states recognized electronic signatures through the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA Act 1999).
Together these acts supply guidelines that make electronic signatures permissible as a way to sign documents. They establish the framework that ensures the validity and legality of electronic signatures in the United States.
Within the Act, an electronic signature is defined as:
“An electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”
The framework or guidelines governing electronic signatures in the United States encompass four areas.
Intent to sign
Just like a normal wet signature, the people involved in the transaction or agreement must have the intention to sign. An electronic signature is not valid if someone was tricked or mislead to sign.
Consent to do business electronically
Everyone that signs an agreement or document must first consent to do business this way. It cannot be ‘forced’ upon one party by another. This is considered a matter of course for businesses but there are exceptional circumstances where consumers can only engage in electronic signature transactions when:
- The consumer has received a copy of a document called UETA Consumer Consent Disclosures
- The consumer has agreed, with full knowledge and understanding, to use electronic records in any transaction they are a part of
- The consumer has not withdrawn their consent to transact electronically
Association of signature with a record
The electronic document signature system used to sign the document must create and maintain a record to reflect the process showing how the signature was created. Conversely, the electronic signature software system must create a textual or graphical statement that’s added to the signature record which explicitly shows how the document was signed with an eSignature. show how the signature was created.
In the United States, electronic signature records need to be retainable and constitute an accurate reproduction. This serves as a reference for anyone entitled to keep that record. The good news is that UsefulSignatures goes above and beyond the bare minimum required to maintain legality in the United States.
Are electronic signatures legal, admissible, enforceable, and recognized?
Yes. eSignatures are valid for almost every agreement.
Situations where electronic signatures should not be used
While electronic signatures are versatile and widely accepted in the United States, they’re not ideal in every situation such as:
Court orders and notices or official court documents
Notices used for cancellation of utility service
Other areas of family law
Wills and Codicils
Notices used for cancellation of health or life insurance
Notices for recall of products
Documents that accompany the transportation of hazardous material