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Colorado Springs, CO 80903
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January 16, 2018
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Electronic signatures, sometimes referred to as e-signatures, have gained popularity as well as credibility over the last decade or so. As society becomes increasingly digitally reliant, it seems that digital options for filing, signing, and approving documents of a legal, or just generally official, nature will become the norm rather than the exception. I think each of us, at some point, have been in the position of having to locate a printer to print a document that requires a signature, or worse, having to drive to a specific destination to provide a signature on a document that we already have access to digitally. A task that requires seconds of effort, somehow turns into a potential time-suck that can waste away precious hours of a day. Is there an easier, legal way to provide a signature on the documents that are essential to keeping a life running smoothly? Perhaps electronic signatures are the answer.
But was is an e-signature really? The answer is surprisingly straightforward. In the U.S. an electronic signature can be as simple as the signer’s name between two forward slashes (i.e. /John Smith Jr./), a scanned version of your actual signature, or, for those that prefer the peace of mind of more security, as complex as a digital version of a signature generated by a program like Adobe or DocuSign. The latter version looks just like your physical signature, which has been scanned into a program and appears alongside a seal of authenticity by the generating program on the signed document.
To best verify whether an electronic signature is acceptable the receiving party should be consulted. Simply call the institution or individual awaiting a signed version and ask. If both parties agree that an electronic signature is acceptable then it is! Easy, right? 
If a document requires a notarized signature, an e-signature may also be accepted. However, the notary must be qualified to provide an electronic notary seal and follow all standard guidelines for notarizing official documents. In this instance, it may be best to provide a physical signature in front of a notary for ease and to ensure the process is completed correctly. At Black & Graham, when we notarize documents for clients we are able to then provide a hard copy and a scanned/digital copy of the document to the client, ensuring that a digital version of the signed document is accessible to all parties.
In El Paso County and the majority of Colorado courts, the judges and magistrates only use electronic signatures. They appear in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of each signed document. This is of huge convenience to the signers, as their signatures must appear on a great deal of documents on a daily basis. The time that is saved by providing e-signatures is significant. However, while a convenience to the signers, the current process has also proved confusing for clients and the recipients of such documents. The signature is in an unexpected place, top corner rather than on the signature line provided in the document and has, in the past caused some undue stress in several cases. In order to avoid confusion when looking at a signed document issued by the court, try not to panic if the e-signature is not where you’d expect it to be. Check the first page for a signature and stamp indicating the signatory’s name and title alongside the date of signing. 
As electronic signatures become increasingly accepted by legal, financial, and government institutions, their efficacy and reliability will continue to develop, eventually leading to the ability to e-sign virtually every kind of documentation. Until then, its safest to always verify whether electronic signatures are accepted and inform oneself of the proper requirements for each type of document that requires a signature. And, most importantly, only provide a signature in a form that you feel comfortable with. If pen in hand is the only way you prefer your signature to be rendered, then stick with it! Just know, in this digitally evolving age, there are alternative options.

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