We often have to send documents to clients for them to sign and although we always try to explain how this needs to be done we are offering a guide in this fact sheet for how to sign some common documents:
- It is usually best to sign in black ink - legal documents are often copied and signatures in black ink usually show up best on photocopies or scans of documents.
- please don't ever fill in any missing dates or other information unless we have asked you to do so.
- If a document is made up for signature with a provision for a signature to be witnessed you should choose an independent adult third party to act as witness and should make sure you do not have as your witness anyone who is connected to the transaction the document effects, or indeed anyone whose name is by coincidence the same as that of any other party to the document.
- If you are signing a Will you will need two witnesses and you must make sure you do not have anyone witness your signature who is intended to benefit from the Will as, if they witness your signature, their right to inherit will be lost.
- If you are in doubt as to how to sign any document we have sent you do please ring us first and we will be pleased to help you with the process. This is particularly important if the document has already been signed by some parties or has been provided to us by third parties.
Contracts for the sale or purchase of a house.
We almost always use contracts with a box for your signature but if you are buying a property the contract will have been prepared by the Sellers' Conveyancer and some contracts do differ.
No contract will need you to have your signature witnessed.
One of our contracts will look like this [click link to open image in new window]: SCPC1
On these forms of contract you sign in the box, which, in the linked example, is shown outlined in red - don't fill in any dates or other details - all of these will be filled in by us when we actually exchange contracts for you. If you are buying and the contract looks different we will usually have marked where you sign by lightly pencilling your initials.
If you are buying or selling jointly you will both need to sign in the same box. If the box allows you the option of "Buyers / Sellers" then cross out the one which does not apply. If you are buying and selling at the same time expect to sign two contracts - one for your purchase and one for your sale.
Generally speaking when you return a signed contract to us we will take that as authority to commit you to the sale or purchase - if you do not intend this then please include a covering letter explaining that.
Contracts for the sale or purchase of a commercial property.
These are often long documents all in typescript, sometimes running to dozens of pages, and often finishing with a page for signature simply saying:
(sometimes Buyer: Seller:)
In these cases again we will usually have marked the document to show where we want you to sign but usually you sign in the open space to the right of the word Vendor (if you are the seller) or Purchaser (funnily enough if you are the buyer), again .
Watch out for deceptive documents where the space for your signature is well before the end of the document but the document has a schedule containing some prescribed ancillary wording - and perhaps also, confusingly, finishing with a signature clause. Generally speaking we will have made this clear to you but if you are unsure do please ring or email us and we will be happy to explain.
Following your exchange of contracts (and sometimes at the same time where time is pressing) we will need you to sign a transfer document. Again we use versions that have boxes for each signatory so you just need to find the relevant box and sign in it. You will need to have your signature witnessed though.
Click the link to see a typical back page from a transfer form: TR1
You will see that you sign in the box to the right of your name and your witness - an adult third-party - not connected with you or with the transaction in any way (and please, not anyone whose surname is, even by coincidence the same as that of any other party to the document) should then sign their name on the dotted line labelled "Signature of witness" and then have your witness fill in THEIR name and address in block capitals on the next two dotted lines.
A common form of document signature block looks like this:
In this case Joe Bloggs should sign the document in the open space to the right of the bold "JOE BLOGGS" and then have the witness sign on the first dotted line, their Name, Address and Occupation on the succeeding lines in block capitals.