How to Sign a Legal Document

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Signing a legal document shows your assent to the terms listed in it. Because of the potential ramifications associated with signing a contract or other legal documents, you may be asked to show proof of your identity before your signature is accepted. If you fail to follow all of the guidelines asked of you when you sign the document, you may compromise your legal rights.

Step 1

Execute your signature in front of a notary public. In order to verify your identity, you are required to sign many legal documents in the presence of a licensed notary public. Before you sign, the notary will need to see photo ID such as a driver's license or passport. Once the notary watches you sign the document, he or she will affix a stamp or seal underneath your signature.

Step 2

Use the same signature that appears on your photo ID. The notary public may want to compare your signature on the document to the one on your government-issued identification. If your signature does not match, the notary may not be permitted to affix their seal to the document.

Step 3

Date your signature. Next to your signature, list the moth, day, and year. You may write the date numerically or in words. On legal documents, you may not predate or postdate your signature.

Step 4

Sign in blue ink. Some law firms and courts prefer that you sign and date legal documents in blue ink so that it is easier to recognize the original from photocopies. Before you sign any legal documents, verify whether the attorney or document preparer has any ink preferences.

Step 5

Use your Social Security Number to sign an electronic document. Some courts and private firms allow you to execute an electronic signature on documents filed by email on the Internet. Generally, you may sign a document electronically by typing out your full name and listing your Social Security Number next to it.


About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiter Images © 2009