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Fischer: Scribbled or not, there is power in a signature

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Oct 8, 2021

Jen Fischer

Ode to the old John Hancock. Per definition, a signature is a person’s name or mark symbolizing a name used with intention to authenticate a document. A signature is simply a unique mark of identification. This can take the form of scribbles, a squiggle, an X or even a picture. As an example, a little over a year ago, I changed my last name from Kirchhoefer to Fischer; however, my signature did not change. It was as illegible then as it is now, yet as long as this mark represents who I am and my intent, it is still just as valid and legally binding as it was when it said something different — even though the markings are exactly the same. Whatever it looks like, there is power in a signature.

Think of it this way; an artist signs their work not just to authenticate ownership but also to preserve value. Without his identifying mark, for example, Salvador Dali’s “Persistence of Memory” (i.e., the famous melting clock painting) would hold little more meaning than a psychotic episode. However, as it currently stands, the painting is worth nearly $150 million. The signature is everything.

A famous author writes a book that sells for $18.49 on Amazon. In fact, that is exactly what George Orwell’s classic 1984 in hardback, currently sells for on Amazon. However, an extremely rare, signed copy of the book recently came on the market and was snatched up for $26,500. There is value in a signature.

A real estate purchase contract is only considered a legally binding document when both the buyer and the seller have signed. This is one of the first things that must take place to initiate a home purchase. One of the very last things to take place, the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer, happens upon the signing of the deed. Essentially, a signature move … pun intended.

To complicate things (but really to make them easier), President Bill Clinton signed the E-SIGN Act into law 21 years ago. This granted electronic or digital signatures the same legal status as pen and ink signatures. This makes the paperwork part of the process so much simpler; however, if the unique nature of the signature defines both recognition and ownership, the electronic signature has stripped that from us. Either way, it is important to understand what a signature really is at heart. Define your signature; don’t be vulnerable to allowing others to do it for you. The signature is a big deal.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.

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